Fish farm ADDs harm other marine life

harbour porpoise

Campaigners say that electronic underwater devices used to scare seals away from fish farms are causing distress to whales and dolphins more than 30 miles away. The acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs) are said to have a detrimental effect on cetaceans including minke whales and the EU-protected harbour porpoises.

Campaigners want the Scottish government and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to include in the UK’s Marine Noise Registry the “loud and pervasive” noise pollution that comes from salmon farms using ADDs. This would lead to more scrutiny over their operation. Campaigners say that Adds used on salmon farms are “recklessly disturbing” marine life and breaching the European Commission’s habitats directive.

The latest data disclosed by Marine Scotland indicates that the vast majority of active salmon farms not only use the devices but use them continuously, thereby disturbing cetaceans.

“Noisy salmon farms are slipping through the net and urgently need to be captured by the Marine Noise Registry,” Don Staniford, director of Scottish Salmon Watch, said.

A new generation of low-frequency, cetacean-friendly ADD models have been developed. However, David Ainsley, who operates a whale-watching tourist business in Argyll, said recently: “Turning down the volume of ADDs will not solve the problem. Lower frequency devices 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.”

Last week the Scottish and UK governments ordered an investigation into the deaths of 40 Cuvier’s beaked whales, which washed up dead on the west coast of Scotland in a month. Wildlife experts have suggested that they may be affected by military sonar.

Sign the petition calling for a ban on Acoustic Deterrent Devices in Scottish waters.

This article was originally published as Noisy fish farms ‘harm other marine life’ at The Times on 11/09/2018.

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