EU Fish News, 9 Sept 2013: Calls to expel “serial sea lice offenders”

Calls to expel “serial sea lice offenders” from SSPO

EU Fish News, 9 Sept 2013

THE Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)) has issued a damning report that claims that between a quarter and one third of farms on the Scottish mainland and the Hebrides were in areas where average sea lice numbers exceeded the industry’s own limit.

The report follows S&TA (S)’s analysis of aggregated sea lice data published by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), in its first two quarterly sea lice reports.

According to the S&TA (S), in three key fish-farming areas, the SSPO’s ‘averaged data’ showed sea lice numbers in excess of the industry’s own limits for every month from January to June 2013:

• Inchard to Kirkaig North: between February and April the average monthly lice count on eight farms run by Loch Duart was more than three times the industry’s own threshold and never went below twice that threshold in any month.

• Kennart to Gruinard: in seven farms operated by two companies, Wester Ross Fisheries and Scottish Sea Farms, the average monthly lice count on farms in this area ranged between four to more than nine times the industry’s own threshold, between February and June.

• Isle of Harris: between February and June, 12 fish farms operated by three different companies including The Scottish Salmon Company and Marine Harvest (Scotland) Limited recorded an average monthly lice count at times more than five times the industry’s own threshold.

In response to these findings, Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said: “The SSPO reports confirm that, in at least three key fish-farming regions of Scotland, sea lice numbers are out of control and consequently the fish farm companies are failing to protect wild fish from the devastating effects of the release of vast numbers of juvenile parasitic sea lice into west coast sea lochs.

“We have a simple question for the SSPO. Why have companies such as Wester Ross Fisheries and Loch Duart not been expelled from SSPO membership when they fail so consistently and dramatically to keep sea lice numbers within the limits they have signed up to? If the SSPO’s Code of Good Practice on sea lice is to retain any credibility, then surely serial offenders like Wester Ross Fisheries and Loch Duart should be excluded from the salmon farmers’ trade organization.”

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA(S) Aquaculture Campaign, said: “In light of the appalling sea lice numbers that companies such as Wester Ross Fisheries Limited and Loch Duart Limited have been reporting, we would ask Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for the Environment in the Scottish Government, what he intends to do about this.

“Specifically, when is the Minister going to introduce statutory controls on on-farm sea lice numbers to protect juvenile wild fish from picking up lethal infestations in the sea lochs?

“The SSPO’s reports also expose just how wrong Scottish Government was when it refused earlier this year, against the better advice of all west coast local authorities, all wild fish groups and its own Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to include a requirement in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill for all fish farms to publish weekly sea lice count data by law. The supposed confidential interests of the fish-farmers were allowed to trump the public right to know what is being released by the salmon farmers into the wider environment potentially causing huge damage to wild fish conservation.

“However, the Scottish Government still has the power under the Aquaculture Act 2007 to order the publication of farm-specific data and we call upon them now to use that power”.

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