22nd September

'Slow Food' celebrities break link to farmed salmon boycott

Two prominent members of the Slow Food Ireland movement have distanced themselves from a call by environmental watchdog, Friends of the Irish Environment, to boycott farmed salmon, saying they had not been contacted in advance of the campaign.

Salmon with pesto

Food journalist and publisher Sally McKenna of the Bridgstone Guide and Darina Allen, founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, told Inshore Ireland they did not support the pre-Christmas call to boycott smoked Irish farmed salmon.

A press release issued by Friends of the Irish Environment in the run-up to Christmas welcomed Slow Food International’s opposition to intensive fish farming and its contention that open-net pen aquaculture was not a solution to over-fishing.

In Ireland, Slow Food counts amongst its members Bridgestone’s Sally McKenna and that icon of Irish sustainable food, Darina Allen. To have the support of these top names in Ireland in our campaign to bring about sustainable aquaculture is a real boost,' the FIE statement says.

No permission 

When asked by Inshore Ireland where they stood in relation to FIE’s call, Sally McKenna and Darina Allen however said they had not been asked for permission to link them to the boycott, and that this paper’s enquiry was the first they knew of the issue.

Sally McKenna added that while standing by Slow Food’s contention that open-net aquaculture was not the solution to the problem of overfishing, she did not support the campaign by Friends of the Irish Environment to boycott farmed salmon.

“The Christmas season is a time of critical importance for Irish salmon smokers. To mount a boycott would destroy the livelihoods of salmon smokers and their staff who live in coastal communities.

“Nobody from Friends of the Irish Environment contacted me before using my name on a press release suggesting I was in favour of the boycott."

In a written comment to Inshore Ireland, Darina Allen declared she fully concurred with Sally McKenna’s response and sentiments and 'could not express it any more succinctly'. She added that Slow Food Ireland’s name had been referenced and used by both sides in this debate 'without express permission' from Slow Food Ireland.

'Slow Food is not a political football, and permissions need to be sought before any government submission or press release use its name.' 

The FIE press release also quoted Richie Flynn of IFA Aquaculture describing the call to boycott farmed salmon as 'reckless posturing, an ill-thought out and malicious protest, and an act of sabotage against marine communities'.

Speaking later to Inshore Ireland, he said the attempt to boycott Irish farmed salmon was “an irrelevant, lazy and desperate stunt to mislead consumers and hurt people who actually work for a living”.

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