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Björk turns up the volume in attack on industrial salmon farming in open pens


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The Icelandic singer Björk has condemned industrial salmon farming in open pens as “extraordinarily cruel”, as she announced her debut song with the Catalan singer Rosalía, which will be available on Tuesday 21 November.

The pair will donate the proceeds of the single, a love song based on a recently recovered recording Björk made two decades ago, to activists opposing the controversial industry in Iceland.

In a message on her Instagram feed, Björk said she felt “blessed” that the Spanish songwriter had agreed to the collaboration and was donating her work to the “battle” against open-pen farms.

“This is a 25-year-old song of mine that I wrote and programmed inspired by a dancehall beat (the grandmother of reggaeton),” she wrote.

“Rosalía’s experiences with the genre and her incredible voice made her an obvious guest on the song. I feel blessed that she said yes and her team is donating their work and all proceeds to this battle.”

There was an “elegant resonance” to the fact that her voice was the same age as Rosalía’s on the recording, said the singer, who will be 58 on Tuesday. Rosalía helped her update the track, with production by Sega Bodega.

The open-pen salmon-farming industry has come under scrutiny in Iceland after revelations that thousands of farmed salmon had escaped, raising fears over the threat to wild salmon from interbreeding.

Earlier this month, the Guardian obtained film footage of diseased, dead and dying salmon on a farm after a sea-lice outbreak described as a “welfare disaster” by veterinary experts.

Björk accused the Norwegian companies Mowi and SalMar of damaging “large areas of our fjords, marine life, animals and plants”. Mowi is the parent company of Arctic Fish, one of Iceland’s largest salmon-farming companies and is being investigated by police after the mass escape from pens in a fjord in September. SalMar owns the Icelandic company Arnarlax, which along with Arctic Fish, owns open pens affected by the sea-lice outbreak in November.

In October, Björk said artists were often the “canaries in the coalmine” of environmental emergencies because it was their job to be sensitive. The salmon farming companies, she said, were “a couple of wild guys who want to make money quick and sacrifice nature”.

In her social-media message, Björk said: “Industrial salmon farming in open enclosures is horrible for the environment. Farmed salmon go through immense suffering and cause serious damage to our planet.

“This is an extraordinarily cruel way of making food,” she said. “The fight against the open-fishing industry is part of the fight for the future of the planet.”

Björk has become increasingly vocal in the battle against salmon farming. In a column for Dagbladet, one of Norway’s largest newspapers, at the weekend, she accused the industry of having a high mortality rate “literally written into the business model”.

“The world is beginning to realise that salmon farming in open cages is based on terrible suffering and death,” she wrote.

Mowi and SalMar have been approached for comment.

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