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Salmon farming centre. (Photo: Marine Harvest)

Marine Harvest mistakenly kills 175,000 of its salmon

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Tuesday, November 08, 2016, 00:20 (GMT + 9)

Norwegian multinational, Marine Harvest has accidentally killed more than 175,000 of its caged salmon in Scotland while trying to treat them for sea lice and other diseases, according to internal Government memos.

As it was reported in the newspaper Herald Scotland, these mistaken actions have cost millions of pounds to the firm and led to over 600 tonnes of salmon having to be incinerated. The losses have contributed to a 16 per cent drop in the company’s Scottish salmon production.

“We regret any loss of fish and are always mindful of the welfare of the fish and aim to continuously improve our methods to address changing environmental circumstances. We have been dealing with a number of challenges in relation to fish health,” stressed the company’s manager Steve Bracken.

The article published in Herald Scotland points out that the worst incident took place in July and August on a salmon farm in Loch Greshornish, on the Isle of Skye. There some 95,400 fish were killed by a new device called a thermolicer, which is designed to rid salmon of the sea lice that plague them, as it was explained in a memo dated September 12 from Government officials to the Rural Economy Minister, Fergus Ewing.

According to the document, the “sudden temperature change” caused by the thermolicer killed 95 per cent of the lice but also caused “significant mortalities” amongst the salmon. Officials estimated that the losses cost Marine Harvest over GBP 2.7 million.

“This report highlights the ongoing difficulties and costs faced by industry with regards to sea lice management,” concluded the memo, which was released under freedom of information law.

Another 20,000 salmon were killed at Loch Greshornish fish farm by other attempts to rid them of sea lice using chemicals.

A second memo to Ewing reveals that 60,000 salmon had been killed at a Marine Harvest fish farm in Soay Sound off the Isle of Harris, in early September, when they were treated with hydrogen peroxide against amoebic gill disease. 

In the company’s latest quarterly report, Marine Harvest informed that its production of salmon in Scotland dropped by 16 per cent since last year and that costs increased due to “incident based mortality” that was “mainly related to gill disease and sea-lice treatment losses.”

At the end of October, the fish farming industry launched a plan to double its business from GBP 1.8 billion this year to GBP 3.6 billion by 2030. The plan was backed by Ewing, who promised to set up an “industry leadership group”.

Environmentalists quickly reacted. After finding that sea lice and other diseases are negatively affecting Scottish salmon aquaculture industry until it disappears, they deemed these plans to double the industry size until the year 2030 as totally insane.

In this regard, Herald Scotland informed that the Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, has lodged a parliamentary question asking for a list of fish farming incidents over the last two years. He questioned whether the industry could double production “without disastrous consequences.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation admits that “unexpected incidents” can happen with new treatment technology and its chief executive Scott Landsburgh, ensures that “any growth will be achieved responsibly and sustainably.” 

 
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