Salmon farm. (Photo: Richard Dorrell/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Scottish Parliament to investigate salmon farming environmental impact
Saturday, June 24, 2017, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
The Scottish Parliament will start an investigation into the salmon farming industry in Scotland in response to a petition made by Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS), which argues that protection is needed for wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms.
Guy Linley-Adams, for S&TCS, stressed the inquiry will enable the organisation to bring all MSPs attention to what they can do to protect Scotland’s wild salmon and sea trout, and the wider Scottish environment, from the damage it is currently suffering as a result of salmon farming in marine open cages.
The petition S&TCS lodged recommends that the Scottish Parliament should seek to amend the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 to give Scottish Ministers a statutory duty to inspect farms and enforce sea lice control on salmon farms.
In its petition S&TCS argues that it is necessary to protect wild salmonid fish from juvenile sea lice infestation from marine cage fish farms, and statutory powers to order immediate culls of any marine cage fish farm where average adult female sea lice numbers of farmed fish remain persistently above Code of Good Practice thresholds.
Over the medium term, S&TCS considers that those farms consistently failing to control sea lice should be closed or relocated to move the worst performing farms away from salmonid rivers and migration routes.
S&TCS supports a renewed focus on moving to full closed containment of farmed salmon production in Scotland, with complete 'biological separation' of wild and farmed fish.
The organisation points out that adult wild salmon are perfectly adapted to coping with a few sea lice and that background levels of these parasites occur naturally in the sea. However, it insists that the advent of salmon farming, particularly in fjordic or largely enclosed sea lochs, has led to a fundamental change in the density and occurrence of sea lice in parts of the coastal waters of the west Highlands and Islands.
In this regard, the organisation clarifies that even one or two mature female sea lice per fish within a set of cages housing hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon amounts to a very large breeding reservoir producing huge numbers of mobile juvenile sea lice that move out into the local marine environment.
Finally, it states that the consequences for wild salmon and sea trout smolts, the metamorphosing fragile skin of which is not adapted to cope with more than the odd louse, as they migrate from local rivers to sea can be devastating.