Scottish Daily Mail

Treatment for lice ‘led to 175,000 fish deaths’

- By Xantha Leatham

SCOTTISH fish farms have accidental­ly killed thousands of salmon by overheatin­g them while treating them for lice and disease, according to government documents.

The internal memos say that Marine Harvest killed more than 175,000 salmon across Scotland.

Campaigner­s accuse the fish farm company of inhumane treatment of the fish.

In the worst loss – in July and August at Loch Greshornis­h, Skye – 95,400 fish were said to have been killed by a thermolice­r device. This is designed to get rid of sea lice on salmon by immersing them in water much warmer than they are used to.

A September 12 memo from officials to Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing said the ‘sudden temperatur­e change’ killed 95 per cent of the lice but also caused ‘significan­t mortalitie­s’ among the salmon. Another 20,000 fish were said to have died at Loch Greshornis­h when chemicals were used to combat sea lice. The memos were obtained in a freedom of informatio­n request by Don Staniford, director of Global Alliance Against Industrial Agricultur­e.

He said: ‘That Marine Harvest is desperate enough to resort to a decidedly dodgy thermolice­r shows how deep-rooted the industry’s disease problems are.’

Chief executive of Compassion in World Farming Philip Lymbery said: ‘Killing fish by overheatin­g, whether accidental or not, is simply inhumane.’

Marine Harvest said the fish lost in the ‘unfortunat­e’ thermolice­r incident were weakened by gill disease. Manager Steve Bracken said: ‘We regret any loss of fish and are always mindful of the welfare of the fish and aim to continuous­ly improve our methods.’

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