Scottish Daily Mail

Paxman hits out at failure to tackle fish farms crisis

- 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
Enthusiast­ic angler: Jeremy Paxman after a fishing trip off Cuba

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