Wild salmon vulnerable
The Sunday Times, 19 May 2013
By: Mark Macaskill
A LEADING wild salmon charity in Scotland has admitted failing to protect the species after a study revealed that more than half of fish farms are near rivers with fragile native salmon stocks.
The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (Rafts) has received hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to investigate the impact of aquaculture on wild salmon. The body aims to produce a map showing the location of fish farms along the west coast and the rivers where salmon stocks are most fragile. A leaked paper reveals a “disproportionately high” number of farms are operating near rivers where wild salmon numbers are in decline. It reveals 57% of all aquaculture operates in 19% of the most sensitive waters identified by Rafts, and 24% of farms operate in the top 4% of most sensitive waters. They include Loch Ewe in Achnasheen.
The paper, by Callum Sinclair from Rafts, concludes that government support for an expansion of the farmed salmon industry means “it is not possible to have the industry removed from large areas of the west coast simply by wishing that to be the case”. However, Sinclair concedes not enough has been done to challenge the spread of fish farms.
“We as a sector have failed to prevent aquaculture developments taking place in important locations,” he said.
Critics of coastal fish farms say wild salmon are in decline because they run the gauntlet of about 400 fish farms along the west coast of Scotland to reach feeding grounds around Iceland and the Faroe Islands, through water the farms have polluted with sea lice. They want aquaculture production to move to closed facilities. In the meantime, it is hoped the salmon map may help prevent new farms being sited in sensitive locations.
The Scottish government aims to expand salmon production sustainably by 4% a year from 154,000 tonnes in 2010 to 210,000 tonnes by 2020. In January 2011, the Scottish and Chinese governments signed a salmon export deal.
For full article see: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/scotland/article1261614.ece