Salmon farms face new crack­down to com­bat threat of killer dis­eases

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

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’

Scale: Farms are big busi­ness

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.