The organisation released this information in a report called Scottish Salmon’s Dirty Big Secret, which issued last year based on the data obtained from a dossier via Freedom of Information.
And it no states that it got a former public relations director of the salmon farming company first affected by gill diseases to blow the whistle.
“[I was] not prepared to lie to journalists about the extent of the mortalities,” stated Fiona Cameron, former director of public relations for Pan Fish and Lighthouse Caledonia during the 2007-8 disease outbreak at the Lamlash Bay site.
The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), Marine Harvest and Scottish Sea Farms are all seeing mass mortalities of up to 70 per cent in their farms. Marine Harvest and the SSC both reported considerable losses to shareholders and investors in their latest financial reports, and Marine Harvest predicted further losses in Q4 due to gill diseases, GAAIA stated.
Alison Prince, editor of Voice for Arran and author of 'Trumpton', with Don Staniford, a member of GAAIA. (Photo: GAAIA)
“Scottish salmon is farmed and diseased. Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran is ‘ground zero’ with reports of infectious gill diseases since 2007. Since then amoebic gill disease has spread like a malignant cancer along the coast of Scotland from Argyll to Orkney and from Skye to the Western Isles,” said Don Staniford of GAAIA, who is visiting salmon farms on the Isle of Skye this week along with representaives of Wild Salmon First.
Cameron said she believes amoebic gill disease is exactly what caused those large mortalities.
“I find it impossible to believe that this is not the same disease which killed a large number of fish at Pan Fish’s Arran site a number of years ago (and indeed was the cause of my parting company with them, as I was not prepared to lie to journalists like Nick Underdown about the extent of the mortalities),” Cameron wrote in an email to GAAIA. “Not sure why they’re saying it’s a new phenomenon. I guess they don’t want to frighten the horses (a.k.a. the shareholders!).”
According to official data from the Scottish Government, amoebic gill disease was first reported at Lamlash Bay in October 2011, killing 279,000 farmed salmon. By April 2012, the lethal disease had spread to 15 sites including Loch Roag in the Western Isles, the Firth of Lorne, Seil Sound, the Sound of Mull, Loch Kishorn, the Isle of Gigha and the Orkney Isles, GAAIA stated.
The organisation has now filed a FOI with Marine Scotland requesting disease data from April-November 2012.
"May the global voices for wild salmon unite to deliver the message to Norway that Norwegian salmon farms are not welcome and must go!" said Elena Edwards of Wild Salmon First, who is visiting from British Columbia, Canada.
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