SSPO bat­tles Sepa over sea lice treat­ment

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Scott Lands­burgh

THE Scot­tish Salmon Pro­duc­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (SSPO) is to com­mis­sion in­de­pen­dent re­search to ‘prop­erly in­form’ the dis­cus­sion about the po­ten­tial im­pact of the sea lice treat­ment Slice. This fol­lows the de­ci­sion of the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency (Sepa) to cut back on the use of emamectin ben­zoate (mar­keted as Slice) by 60 per cent. Sepa based its rul­ing on a 2016 re­port by WRc, for­merly the Wa­ter Re­search Cen­tre and now an in­de­pen­dent com­pany pro­vid­ing re­search and con­sul­tancy in wa­ter, waste and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Scott Lands­burgh, SSPO chief ex­ec­u­tive said: ‘Hav­ing re­viewed the WRc re­port on the En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Stan­dard for emamectin ben­zoate, pub­lished by Sepa, and hav­ing taken ex­pert opin­ion on this, SSPO be­lieves that the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions are ex­cep­tion­ally pre­cau­tion­ary and that there is a need for fur­ther rel­e­vant data to en­sure proper bal­ance is main­tained.

‘With this in mind, SSPO will set about gath­er­ing ad­di­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal in­for­ma­tion and will com­mis­sion fur­ther in­de­pen­dent re­search de­signed to fill ex­ist­ing gaps in in­for­ma­tion.

‘Th­ese things will pro­ceed as a mat­ter of ur­gency.’

Sepa is putting in place an in­terim reg­u­la­tory po­si­tion for new ap­pli­ca­tions that lim­its residues in sed­i­ment of emamectin ben­zoate. Oper­a­tors at ex­ist­ing sites are be­ing asked to re­duce their ap­pli­ca­tion of emamectin ben­zoate by 60 per cent.

Lands­burgh said: ‘Sepa have pub­lished a re­port based on desk re­search on non-na­tive species in fresh­wa­ter, re­gard­less of the fact that our salmon ma­ture in ma­rine wa­ter.

‘No busi­ness can op­er­ate suc­cess­fully in this sort of chaos. If the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment and its agen­cies want to de­ter in­vest­ment, put jobs and eco­nomic ben­e­fit in jeop­ardy, this is cer­tainly the right way to go about it.

‘Sepa have in­tro­duced im­me­di­ate reg­u­la­tory changes with no con­sid­er­a­tion of the so­cial and eco­nomic im­pact de­spite be­ing legally re­quired to do so.

‘Slice has been, and con­tin­ues to be, a crit­i­cally im­por­tant tool within the in­dus­try’s strat­egy to pro­tect the health and wel­fare of farmed salmon.’

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