Salmon farming controls in Scotland criticised

Salmon, salmon farm

SALMON farming controls in Scotland have been described as “not fit for purpose” by an anglers’ rights group.

Fish Legal, which also acts for fishing clubs and fishery owners, has raised new concerns that the government “lacks suitable powers” to require a farmer to stop farming salmon where lice levels on a farm are out of control.

And it said that regulation must provide a “genuine sanction if the farmer exceeds farm lice levels”.

“Very simply put, if the farmer cannot farm to a required standard then he should be required to stop the job,” Fish Legal said.

It comes as concerns rise about a surge of parasitic sea lice which is disrupting salmon farms around the world. The tiny lice attach themselves to salmon and feed on them, killing or rendering them unsuitable for dinner tables.

Fish Legal, in a report to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the salmon farming industry, raised the “inadequacy of sea lice treatment” to protect wild salmon.

And they said that Marine Scotland has not been given the duty to consider and protect wild salmon as part of their duties to regulate aquaculture.


They say standards have been “watered down” by the Scottish Government with current notification set at three lice per fish and treatment at eight per fish.

The group said: “Current treatment levels are not designed to protect wild fish and they do not. However even if more exacting standards are set, then there will be no benefit to wild fish unless there is a regulatory system capable of enforcing those standards, and no such system exists at the moment.

“Sea lice are in effect a pollutant and like any pollutant, the more that is emitted in a sea loch area the greater risk of damage. It follows from this from a regulatory point of view that if we are to limit damage then ‘threshold levels’ of maximum lice emissions must be set to try and ensure that receiving waters are kept safe. Those levels must be set at both farm level and in each farm management area.

“We call upon the Environment Committee to recommend to the Scottish Government that it must recognise the uniqueness and value to Scotland of its west coast fisheries and take serious measures to protect them before it is too late.”

Read the full article at The Herald.

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