CASE FOR THE PROS­E­CU­TION

We re­ceived nu­mer­ous let­ters ex­press­ing your anger that Dr Jaffa was al­lowed to pub­lish his de­fence of the salmon-farming in­dus­try in last month’s T&S. Here is a se­lec­tion of your com­ments.

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Letters -

I must point out the bad taste of your mag­a­zine pub­lish­ing Dr Jaffa’s views in the same is­sue as Bruce San­di­son’s obit­u­ary. [Bruce was a fierce critic of salmon farming and an in­spi­ra­tional de­fender of wild fish – ed­i­tor.] Dr Jaffa’s views are based on graphs made with Ma­rine Scot­land Science (MSS) fig­ures. MSS fig­ures are highly con­tro­ver­sial and some­times far­ci­cal as your High­lands cor­re­spon­dent An­drew Gra­ham-ste­wart points out with hu­mour when re­port­ing about the Helms­dale. In its present or­gan­i­sa­tion there is ab­so­lutely no doubt from a sci­en­tific point of view that salmon farming is bad for the en­vi­ron­ment, bad for wild fish. Olivier De­vic­tor, Lon­don

Dr Jaffa has more than 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the study of salmon farming. It is quite in­cred­i­ble that in those 40 years Dr Jaffa has failed to recog­nise the di­rect causal link be­tween salmon farms and the de­cline of sea-trout stocks. The sad demise of the Loch Ma­ree sea-trout fish­ery is fa­mil­iar to many of us. That the pri­mary cause of that demise has been the spread of sea-lice from the salmon farm in Loch Ewe is un­de­ni­able. For some­one pur­port­ing to be a sci­en­tist to seek to deny this fact is ir­re­spon­si­ble in the ex­treme. The fol­low­ing para­graphs were ex­tracted from a sci­en­tific re­port by re­spected bi­ol­o­gists on the sea-lice prob­lem caused by the salmon farms: “In ar­eas with epi­zootics (out­breaks of dis­ease af­fect­ing many fish at one time), lice can di­rectly cause the mor­tal­ity of 30 to 50 per cent of all mi­grat­ing sea trout smolts and 48 to 86 per cent of all wild salmon smolts...” All this was known 15 years ago. Dr Jaffa’s con­clu­sions are ir­ra­tional, spu­ri­ous and fan­ci­ful, un­sup­ported by any ev­i­dence. For me, they negate any cred­i­bil­ity Dr Jaffa might have had prior to this ar­ti­cle be­ing pub­lished. His fi­nal para­graph takes the bis­cuit: “Surely the time for fin­ger-point­ing must stop… There is no rea­son why wild salmon fish­eries and salmon farming can­not co-ex­ist in har­mony… Salmon farming may not be so dirty af­ter all.” Aye, right! Tell that to what re­mains of the Loch Ma­ree sea-trout and those who once de­pended on them for their liveli­hood. John Gray, Gran­town on Spey

It is to the ed­i­tor’s credit that Dr Jaffa has been given the op­por­tu­nity to de­fend the salmon-farming in­dus­try. How­ever, Dr Jaffa’s stance is rem­i­nis­cent of that taken by Big To­bacco to deny the link be­tween smok­ing and lung cancer. The ev­i­dence that has ac­cu­mu­lated against his case is now over­whelm­ing, and even Dr Jaffa con­cedes that “there might be some im­pact on stocks al­ready in de­cline”. Let us hope that this is a fi­nal rear­guard action of a dis­cred­ited in­dus­try, which soon may be obliged to move farms away from wild fish­eries, and switch to full con­tain­ment. Dr Jaffa should be chal­lenged to test his hy­poth­e­sis. His back­ers could lease a de­fined mi­gra­tory catch­ment, in­stall a fish counter and trap, place a salmon farm near the river mouth and then mea­sure the ef­fects. A nat­u­ral ex­per­i­ment of this kind oc­curred in Ire­land when the Kil­lary salmon farm went bank­rupt and healthy sea-trout re­turned to the Del­phi sys­tem. John Smithson, Bris­tol

This ar­ti­cle made my blood boil. Per­haps Dr Jaffa could ex­plain why sea-trout stocks in Con­nemara ac­tu­ally col­lapsed at the same time as opencage salmon aqua­cul­ture kicked off in the late 1980s, lead­ing to the Sea Trout Action Groups. On a river in Con­nemara where I reg­u­larly fish, I can only sup­pose that it is a co­in­ci­dence that sea-trout ap­pear when the salmon farms in the area are fal­low in con­junc­tion with the spring smolt mi­gra­tion and dis­ap­pear when the farms are stocked or lice lev­els are sig­nif­i­cant. I have no doubt the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try will trum­pet this study with­out T&S do­ing it for them. The time for dis­cus­sion is past. Ge­of­frey Fitzjohn, County Gal­way

I was very in­ter­ested to read Dr Jaffa’s piece. By lay­ing the blame for re­duced salmon stocks on one in­dus­try, it leaves the door open for other causes to go un­no­ticed and unchecked. While it may be that salmon farms do have an im­pact on wild fish stocks, they may not be the only rea­son for the re­duc­tion. A holis­tic in­ves­ti­ga­tion to find the cause or causes seems a very sen­si­ble way for­ward. David Smith, Suf­folk

I am dis­ap­pointed that you have pub­lished [Dr Jaffa’s] ar­ti­cle. Dr Jaffa ad­mits that his pa­per has not un­der­gone peer re­view. Let’s hope that it is never pub­lished. There is no men­tion of the pol­lu­tion is­sues, which are clearly doc­u­mented. He does not ad­dress the lice and dis­ease is­sues that have plagued the in­dus­try. It is cur­rently wrestling with amoe­bic gill dis­ease, one of a suc­ces­sion of dis­eases that wild salmon are ex­posed to. Why is it that sites have to be left fal­low af­ter pro­duc­tion cy­cles? He does not con­sider the im­pact of the trawl­ing of fod­der species, such as an­chovies, sprats and sand eels, to pro­duce fish oil and meal es­sen­tial for the diet of farmed salmon. The loss of sand eels not only im­pacts fish but has also been iden­ti­fied as one of the rea­sons for the de­cline in seabirds. Dr John Robert­son, via e-mail

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