Scottish Daily Mail
Salmon farms face new crackdown to combat threat of killer diseases
NEW rules are to be drawn up to tackle Scotland’s salmon industry crisis.
Salmon farms will be forced to adhere to strict regulations to prevent the spread of killer infestations and diseases.
The Scottish Government announced its intention to act in a ‘Farmed Fish Health Framework’ published yesterday.
Industry bodies said the proposals could help salmon farming to ‘progress sustainably and successfully’.
But campaigners who have been demanding greater regulation to deal with the growth of the industry said the new framework ‘smacks of desperation’.
The document points out that exports of salmon were worth £600million last year – and increased by 35 per cent compared to the previous year.
Earlier this month, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing told a Holyrood committee that the key challenge facing the industry is to ‘overcome the disease and mortality issue’ – and he said a new framework would set out how that would be addressed.
Yesterday’s document promises a ‘review of compliance’ relating to sea lice problems, while an action plan will be developed to ‘tackle the underlying causes of mortality’. A ‘long-term approach’ will also be adopted to tackle poor gill health, seen as the key contributor to marine mortality.
Mr Ewing, who has previously insisted that growth of the industry must be sustainable, said: ‘This Farmed Fish Health Framework... must now translate into action and deliver tangible progress.
‘I expect to be kept fully updated, beginning with an update in three months detailing clear timelines for delivery on the identified workstreams. This will ensure the momentum and drive exists to achieve real and concrete gains throughout the ten-year lifetime of the framework.’
Holyrood’s environment committee raised concerns earlier this year that growth ‘may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment’. And TV presenter Jeremy Paxman recently attacked the Scottish Government for a ‘contemptible’ lack of action to deal with problems facing the industry, which he claimed ‘doesn’t really care much’ about the environment.
Don Staniford, director of the Scottish Salmon Watch campaign group, said: ‘This ten-year plan has more holes than a salmon farm and smacks of desperation.
‘To describe salmon farming as “without question one of Scotland’s great food success stories” clearly shows that the Scottish Government is out to lunch.
‘The unpalatable truth is that over 23,000 tons – an estimated 15-20million fish – died on Scottish salmon farms last year at a mortality rate of 26.7 per cent.’
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said the framework ‘recognises the valuable work that industry is already undertaking, and sets out actions to be put in place... so that salmon farming can progress sustainably and successfully’.
‘This plan smacks of desperation’