Asda drops Scottish salmon supplier Wester Ross
Undercurrent News 21 April 2014
UK supermarket Asda has dropped Scottish salmon producer Wester Ross Fisheries (WRF) from its suppliers, reported the Sunday Times.
Asda did not give the reason for the move, and said WRF was not a significant supplier.
However, Wester Ross has been under the spotlight due to controversy over its farm licenses, and due to its poor salmon lice records.
Last December, Salmon & Trout Association (STA) urged senior Asda executives to drop supplies of farmed salmon from WRF “because of its appalling sea-lice record”.
In February, STA unveiled datashowing that in the Kennart to Gruinard region of the northwest Highlands, where there are seven farms operated by two companies — WRF and Scottish Sea Farms — sea lice numbers exceeded the industry’s threshold every month from January to September.
The Highland council has also been under pressure to force WRF to reapply for permission to farm salmon at its Ardessie sites in Ross and Cromarty, following revelations that an assessment in 2002 had concluded that the company’s environmental impact was “inadequate”.
The assessment, carried out by Marine Scotland, had concluded that “planning permission should be withheld” from the two Ardessie fish-farms under the government’s audit of pre-2007 fish farms.
STA has subsequently called for Ardessie B to be closed down, and called for an environmental impact assessment of Ardessie A, which it says may also be operating under questionable planning circumstances.
However, a Highland council spokesperson told Undercurrent Newsearlier this month that no action had been taken as the assessment was intended to inform ministers “on how any potential application should be treated”. Since no application was received for either of these sites, this was not taken further, said the spokesperson.
A WRF spokesperson told the Times that the company is “fully compliant with the planning and regulatory legislation”.
According to the newspaper, Asda has in the past lauded WRF for its environmental credentials, and devoted a two-page spread to the producer its in-house magazine last summer.
The family of Sir Tim Rice, the West End composer, has also been urging the council to take action, said the Times.
The family has accused WRF of causing excessive sea lice pollution and the death of wild fish on the Dundonnell river, which runs through the family estate.
STA legal adviser Guy Linley-Adams welcomed Asda’s decision. “If it turns out that Asda has dropped this supplier because of its poor record of sea-lice control at its fish-farms in Wester Ross, and the damage that will have been causing to wild fish conservation, then this is a very good decision and Asda will deserve praise for taking such action,” he said in a statement to the Times.