New Patagonia Film Highlights The Environmental Cost Of Salmon Farming

Campaign calls on the Icelandic government to show leadership in Europe by banning open net pen salmon farms in its coastal waters

Today, Thursday 8th February, outdoor clothing company Patagonia releases its new film, Laxaþjóð – A Salmon Nation, about the fight to protect Iceland’s pristine waters and wild salmon from industrial open net salmon farms.

The 27-minute documentary tells the story of a country united by its lands and waters, and the power of the community working to protect the nature and wildlife that has helped forge the nation’s identity. It will premiere at a public event in Reykjavik and online, as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of the harms caused to wild fish, natural environments, and farmed animals by open net pens.

Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia, said:

Since my first trip to Iceland in 1960, we have seen wild salmon stocks collapsing and now, if the salmon farming industry is allowed to continue in the same direction, the wild species will be history and pristine nature spoiled. It’s happened already in the U.K. and Norway. 

“In Iceland, as with everywhere else, economy revolves around nature, not the other way around. If we destroy nature, we will destroy our economy. It’s going to take vision and leadership to reverse the damage, but we know it can be done.”

Fighting for a brighter future for Iceland  

The farmed salmon industry is growing across Iceland’s fjords, where massive open net pens hold millions of farmed fish. These pens allow the free flow of disease and pollution into the surrounding environment, where wild salmon and sea trout struggle to survive.

A new Bill of Aquaculture, being written now for adoption this year, could provide immediate increased environmental regulation and higher animal welfare standards for open net pen salmon farms in Iceland, with the transition to an outright ban in future.

The launch of Laxaþjóð – A Salmon Nation comes on the back of the publication of the Draft Bill, which Icelanders have been responding to through a public consultation period. This process broke Icelandic records with over 300 comments, the greatest number of public comments ever, including statements from Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard, and CEO, Ryan Gellert.

NGOs fighting to protect Iceland’s waters and wild salmon populations, including Patagonia grantees Icelandic Wildlife Fund (IWF) and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), have expressed serious concerns with the current draft.

Jón Kaldal, The Icelandic Wildlife Fund, commented:

The draft Bill of Aquaculture lacks the ambition required to support a better future for Iceland. It allows for excessively high mortality rates and offers too lenient penalties for those in violation. It also relies too heavily on self-reporting from industry, which in the past has led to companies concealing or disseminating inaccurate information. The Icelandic government must go further to address the drafts current shortcomings in the final Bill.”

s salmon farm problem 

Outside of Iceland, the farmed salmon industry is booming across Europe, in Norway, Scotland and Ireland in particular, driven by predominantly Norwegian business interests. Salmon consumption worldwide is three times higher than it was in 1980.[1] As production grows, so does consumption.

Since 2019, when Patagonia’s global Artifishal campaign was launched, the company has raised the alarm on wild salmon’s slide toward extinction due to the threats posed by fish hatcheries and ocean-based fish farms. Five years later, with Laxaþjóð – A Salmon Nation, Patagonia calls on the Icelandic government to show leadership in Europe and ban new open net salmon farms and phase out existing ones.

As well as supporting IWF and NASF in Iceland, Patagonia is supporting NGOs around Europe in their local campaigns against open net pen salmon farms, through partners such as Inside Scottish Salmon Feedlots and Wild Fish with grants through 1% for the planet.

The campaign against salmon farms is being supported by public figures, including artist and musician Björk, who is donating proceeds from her latest song, Oral, a collaboration with Spanish artist Rosalia, to support the cause. Oral is featured in Laxaþjóð – A Salmon Nation.

Support the campaign, sign the petition and watch Laxaþjóð – A Salmon Nation here.