Clothing manufacturer Patagonia targeting Iceland with campaign to ban net-pen salmon farming

A promo for Patagonia's new film.

Outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia has released a film targeting the salmon industry in Iceland as part of a campaign calling on the country to ban the practice.

The new movie, “Laxaþjóð | A Salmon Nation,” premiered at an event in Reykjavík, Iceland, on 8 February, featuring prominent anti-salmon-farming activists. 

“Without drastic action, wild salmon faces extinction. That’s why I am dead serious about ending the destructive practice of open-net fish farming, before it’s too late," Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard said of the campaign. "We have made every mistake in industrial farming on land and now are we’re making the same disastrous mistakes with farming fish."

In advance of the premiere, Patagonia began circulating a petition calling on the Icelandic government to ban all open net-pen salmon farming. 

The effort expands on Patagonia and Chouinard’s opposition to net-pen salmon farming globally. In 2019, Chouinard executive produced a feature-length documentary called “Artifishal” criticizing the industry. Then in 2020, Patagonia released a video titled “Take Back Puget Sound,” calling salmon farming a “dirty industry.” Most recently, the company went after salmon aquaculture again with a new book titled “The New Fish: The Truth about Farmed Salmon and the Consequences We Can No Longer Ignore.”

Patagonia's Iceland campaign is backed by musicians Björk and Rosalía, who contributed to the movie's soundtrack and who helped lead a 7 October protest that saw 3,000 Icelanders gather in the Iceland’s capital Reykjavík to protest against salmon farming in the country. Björk advertised the film premiere via her social media channels.

Hilary Franz, the commissioner of public lands for the U.S. state of Washington, was also in attendance at the premiere. Franz was the key figure behind a ban on net-pen farming in Washington, which she announced via executive order on 22 November 2022. That ban is now the subject of lawsuits from Cooke Aquaculture and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, who assert the ban had no basis in the law or science. Franz recently halted her gubernatorial campaign, choosing instead to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In "Laxaþjóð," environmental advocates including Veiga Grétarsdóttir and former Norwegian School of Veterinary Science Professor Poppe Trygve discuss the environmental impacts of salmon farming, and ask the Icelandic government to implement strict regulations on the industry, including a complete ban on open-net salmon farms. The country is currently conducting an overhaul of its salmon-farming regulations, Patagonia said the review represents an opportunity to “transform the conversation about salmon farming across Europe.”

Iceland has seen rapid growth in its salmon-farming industry, with the sector having grown at a compound annual growth rate of 35 percent since 2016. Total production reached 43,000 metric tons in 2022, and there are approvals in place for future production of up to 103,000 MT of salmon. That growth has come alongside criticism from within the country’s own government – in 2023, the Icelandic National Audit Office released a report suggesting the industry's rapid development is coming without suitable oversight. 

Photo courtesy of Gestur Gislason/Shutterstock


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