Pax­man hits out at fail­ure to tackle fish farms cri­sis

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Michael Black­ley Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

TELE­VI­SION pre­sen­ter Jeremy Pax­man has launched a scathing at­tack on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment over the cri­sis in salmon farm­ing.

The keen an­gler claimed that the in­dus­try ‘doesn’t re­ally care much’ about the en­vi­ron­ment – and said min­is­ters were fail­ing to curb the dam­age.

And it was, he said, ‘con­temptible’ that more had not been done to stand up to ‘a big pow­er­ful vested in­ter­est’.

Mr Pax­man made the com­ments in a doc­u­men­tary for Ice­land’s na­tional broad­caster, RUV, which ex­am­ined the lessons to be learned from the in­dus­try in Scotland.

Salmon is Scotland’s big­gest food ex­port, worth around £600mil­lion a year, and the in­dus­try wants to more than dou­ble pro­duc­tion by 2030.

But a re­port by Holy­rood’s en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee ear­lier this year raised con­cerns that growth ‘may cause ir­recov­er­able dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment’ amid fears about sea lice in­fes­ta­tion.

In the RUV doc­u­men­tary, called Un­der the Sur­face, Mr Pax­man said: ‘There’s ab­so­lutely no rea­son to think that any­thing dif­fer­ent is go­ing to hap­pen in Ice­land to what hap­pened in Scotland.

‘This is a huge busi­ness that doesn’t re­ally care about the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age it in­flicts. I think if you guys let these men ex­pand at-sea salmon farms in the way they want to do it you are fools.’

Con­demn­ing in­ac­tion on the is­sue, he said: ‘There’s noth­ing gov­ern­ments like more than a prom­ise of em­ploy­ment and a prom­ise of be­ing loved by a big, pow­er­ful vested in­ter­est. I think it’s con­temptible.’

Don Stan­i­ford, di­rec­tor of the Scot­tish Salmon Watch cam­paign group, said: ‘Scot­tish salmon farm­ing is dead in the wa­ter due to in­fec­tious dis­eases, lice in­fes­ta­tions and mass mor­tal­i­ties.

‘Lit­tle won­der that an­glers like Jeremy Pax­man are ris­ing up against the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s reck­less plans for ex­pand­ing salmon farm­ing.’

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘We are com­mit­ted to an aqua­cul­ture pol­icy that en­ables sus­tain­able growth while main­tain­ing our eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

‘The sec­tor sup­ports more than 12,000 jobs and makes a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy in re­mote ru­ral, is­land and coastal ar­eas – the most re­cent fig­ures sug­gest it con­trib­utes nearly £1bil­lion an­nu­ally.’

En­thu­si­as­tic an­gler: Jeremy Pax­man af­ter a fish­ing trip off Cuba

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