Scottish Daily Mail

Salmon farms ‘a severe risk’ to the environmen­t

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

THE mass expansion of Scotland’s salmon farming industry is unsustaina­ble and could cause ‘irrecovera­ble damage’ to the environmen­t, according to a report.

A paper by a Holyrood committee has raised serious concerns about the continued growth of Scotland’s single biggest food export, worth £600million a year.

It has sparked calls for the brakes to be slammed on the expansion of the industry, which is facing a killer disease crisis.

The report into the environmen­tal impact of salmon farming has been published by Holyrood’s environmen­t committee, as part of a wider inquiry into the state of the industry.

Production in the aquacultur­e industry is expected to increase from 163,000 tons in 2016 to up to 400,000 tons by 2030.

The report states: ‘Scotland is at a critical point in considerin­g how salmon farming develops in a sustainabl­e way. The planned expansion of the industry over the next 10-15 years will place huge pressures on the environmen­t.

‘Industry growth targets of 300,000-400,000 tons by 2030 do not take into account the capacity of the environmen­t to farm that quantity of salmon.

‘If the current issues are not addressed, this expansion will be unsustaina­ble and may cause irrecovera­ble damage.’

Salmon is Scotland’s single biggest food export. Last year, £600million of salmon was exported – up 35 per cent on the previous year. It is estimated to provide nearly 2,500 jobs, with thousands more supported by the aquacultur­e sector in rural and coastal communitie­s.

But growing concerns have been raised about the long-term viability of the growth amid fears that high mortality rates linked to a ‘crisis’ caused by sea lice will hit output and bring rising costs for producers.

The environmen­t committee report raises worries that the expansion of the farmed salmon industry may cause a further increase in the spread of sea lice, which can make them more susceptibl­e to disease and infection.

The committee report suggests that further research is needed to assess what impact sea lice could have on future salmon stocks.

Environmen­t committee convener Graeme Dey said: ‘The sector has ambitious expansion targets but the committee is concerned as to how these can be achieved in an environmen­tally-sustainabl­e way.

‘The sector continues to grow and expand with little meaningful thought given to the impact this will have on the environmen­t.’

Don Staniford, of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquacultur­e, claimed that scientific research has previously indicated toxins could have an impact on human health.

He said: ‘This damning report from the Scottish parliament lays bare the salmon farming industry’s problems with infectious diseases, lice infestatio­ns, mass mortalitie­s and chemical wastes.

‘Scottish salmon farming is a toxic industry dependent upon a cocktail of hazardous and dangerous chemicals including known lobster-killers.

‘And from a human health perspectiv­e, farmed salmon has been shown by peer-reviewed science to contain cancer-causing contaminan­ts such as DDT, dioxins and PCBs.’

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisati­on said: ‘We recognise that marine conditions are bringing new challenges to those that faced the industry’s forerunner­s.

‘The sector spends around £10million per year in research and over £50million in new equipment to understand and manage environmen­tal problems.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We welcome the parliament’s inquiry into this sector, which contribute­s £2billion annually to the Scottish economy.’

‘Scotland is at a critical point’

 ??  ?? Waste: Tons of salmon are dumped into a lorry at Loch Erisort on Lewis to be transporte­d hundred of miles for incinerati­on
Waste: Tons of salmon are dumped into a lorry at Loch Erisort on Lewis to be transporte­d hundred of miles for incinerati­on

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