Ban fish farm sonic alarms say ma­rine ex­perts as dol­phins and whales suf­fer

The Herald - - NEWS - MARTHA VAUGHAN

CAM­PAIGN­ERS are call­ing for a ban on the use of un­der­wa­ter elec­tronic “scar­ers” to keep seals away from fish farms be­cause of the dam­age they may be do­ing to whales and dol­phins.

The Acous­tic De­ter­rent De­vices (ADDS) are said to have a detri­men­tal im­pact on ce­taceans, in­clud­ing har­bour por­poises and minke whales.

A new re­port au­thored by the Scot­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­rine Science (SAMS) ex­am­in­ing “low fre­quency” ADDS is due to be pub­lished via the Scot­tish Aqua­cul­ture Re­search Fo­rum (Sarf) later this month.

In re­sponse to com­plaints that ADDS used on Scot­tish salmon farms – 164 of which use the de­vices, ac­cord­ing to the Scot­tish Government – are “reck­lessly dis­turb­ing” ce­taceans and breach­ing the EC Habi­tats Di­rec­tive, a “new gen­er­a­tion” of low-fre­quency “cetacean friendly” mod­els have been as­sessed by a Sarf pro­ject funded in 2016.

How­ever, in a re­port on the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of salmon farm­ing pub­lished in March, the En­vi­ron­ment, Cli­mate Change and Land Re­form Com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that “fish farms can­not use ADDS”.

In April, the He­bridean Whale and Dol­phin Trust’s writ­ten sub­mis­sion to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s salmon farm­ing in­quiry cited new re­search on the im­pact of ADDS, even at low fre­quen­cies, on minke whales.

David Ains­ley, a whale-watch­ing tourist op­er­a­tor based in Ar­gyll, said: “Turn­ing down the vol­ume of ADDS will not solve the prob­lem.

“Lower fre­quency ADDS may be less dis­turb­ing for por­poise but worse for dol­phins and minke whales. The use of ADDS by salmon farms con­sti­tutes ‘reck­less dis­tur­bance’ and is an of­fence un­der Scot­tish law and the EU Habi­tats Di­rec­tive.

“As with the shoot­ing of seals there must be a zero tol­er­ance to ADDS.

“All cur­rent ADDS, in­clud­ing the so-called ‘cetacean friendly’ mod­els, emit very loud noises well above the re­ported thresh­olds for dis­tur­bance and hear­ing dam­age to ce­taceans.”

Mr Ains­ley, who filed a com­plaint with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in April, added: “This is why no ADDS can com­ply with the re­quire­ments of the law pro­tect­ing ce­taceans from dis­tur­bance and in­jury.

“Be­cause ADDS are not very ef­fec­tive, seal shoot­ing will con­tinue un­til farms stop us­ing ADDS and in­stead fit dou­ble-skinned anti-preda­tor nets, as used in Bri­tish Columbia where li­censes are no longer be­ing is­sued for ADDS.”

„ Salmon be­ing net­ted on a Loch Linnhe farm.

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