EU Fish News, 22 Nov 2013: Claims of Sea Lice Explosion

Claims of Sea Lice Explosion

EU Fish News, 22 Nov 2013

ACCORDING to an angling organisation, the latest salmon industry figures reveal that sea lice numbers have exploded in north-west Highlands.

Following their analysis of the most recent data released by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), the Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) has demanded that Holyrood orders an immediate cull of farmed salmon in the affected areas.

The quarterly sea lice report for July to September reveals that average lice numbers during September on farms between Kinlochbervie in the north and the Applecross peninsula in the south were between nine and 12 times over the industry’s own threshold.

The S&TA(S) believes that these numbers warrant an immediate cull of all the salmon on the affected farms, similar to that recently instigated by Norwegian authorities in the Vikna district of Nord Trondelag, in order to protect migrating wild salmon and sea trout in the spring of 2014.

The SSPO report confirms “out of control” lice numbers in the following areas:

• Inchard to Kirkaig North – eight salmon farms, all run by Loch Duart Limited, the self-styled “sustainable salmon company”. Over the industry’s own lice threshold for all three months and in September the monthly lice count on farms in this area was over nine times the threshold, despite 13 separate lice treatments carried out at these four farms in this period.

• Kennart to Gruinard – seven farms operated by two companies, Wester Ross Fisheries Limited and Scottish Sea Farms Limited. Over the threshold for all three months. In September the monthly lice count on farms in this area was over nine times the threshold.

• Badachro to Applecross – four fish farms operated by Marine Harvest (Scotland) Limited and the Scottish Salmon Company. In September the average lice count on farms in this area was 12 times the industry’s own threshold.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said: “We have been warning the Government for years that the headlong rush for expansion, combined with increased sea lice resistance to the cocktail of drugs used to control them, would end in disaster.

“This report confirms that, in the north-west, we have now reached that point. The numbers are truly shocking and by any definition the salmon farmers in these areas have lost all control. There can now be no excuse for Scottish Government Ministers to continue to prevaricate. Ministers must now order an immediate cull of all the fish in the affected farms – the kind of decisive action taken by the Norwegian authorities two months ago when they were faced with a similar problem – and the fallowing of these farms until such time as a proven solution is identified.

“Failure to do so will amount to undeniable confirmation that Ministers are simply not prepared to provide any protection whatsoever for wild salmon and sea trout”.

“The underbelly of a wild juvenile sea trout, smothered in sea lice eating away at its flesh. This fish was caught in June in Little Loch Broom within two miles of Wester Ross Fisheries’ salmon farm at Ardessie

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA(S) Aquaculture Campaign, said: “In light of these appalling figures, we challenge Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, and Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for the Environment, to point us in the direction of a single scientist from their own Marine Scotland Science department who is prepared to stand up and say that such numbers do not present a devastating problem for wild fish. The situation is now so serious that we need a response direct from a Minister.

“The system of light touch regulation of salmon farms has failed. Ministers must now introduce without delay statutory controls on on-farm sea lice numbers to protect juvenile wild fish from lethal infestations.

“No-one should be fooled the industry’s recent regurgitated announcement that wrasse will solve the sea lice issue on farms. Wrasse have already been employed in parts of the north-west and clearly they have not worked.”

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