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Media coverage April 2018

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Oban Times 5 April 2018 - Letters to the Editor

Dawnfresh operations causing problems in Loch Etive and Loch Awe

No expansion of Loch Etive fish farms


I refer to your report (The Oban Times, March 22)’Fly-tippers dump waste on shores of Loch Etive’ and also in the same edition on the appointment of Alison Hutchins as Dawnfresh’s director, for which I would like to congratulate her.

However, while all efforts to clear up the shoreline of Loch Etive are extremely welcome, and supported by Friends of Loch Etive, it would be incomplete not to note that the storage by Dawnfresh of unused fish farm cages and other fish farm equipment on the shoreline continues at Inverawe despite an enforcement notice served by Argyll and Bute Council requiring an end to the practice.

This matter has been pursued by the council for some months.

An appeal was made by Dawnfresh to the Scottish Government, over the heads of the Argyll and Bute Council, but Dawnfresh lost that appeal and its arguments were rejected by the Reporter for the Scottish Government.

Since then, the continued failure of Dawnfresh to remove its unused fish farming equipment scattered on the shoreline at Inverawe should be of concern to everyone in the Etive community.

I also note that Ms Hutchins reports there were no problems with sea lice in Loch Etive ‘just now’. In 2012, Dawnfresh stated that none of its sites had ever required a sea lice treatment, but since the massive expansion and intensification of operations on Loch Etive, as SEPA data shows, Dawnfresh has had treat its fish for sea lice regularly with a range of chemical treatments, including organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid agents.

Readers of The Oban Times will also recall that the wild salmon run on the River Awe last year was the worst on record, and followed several years during which Dawnfresh struggled to keep sea lice under control on its Loch Etive farms at the time that juvenile wild salmon smolts would have first been leaving the River Awe to go to sea for the first time.

Those smolts would have had to run the gauntlet of a massively raised sea lice population in Loch Etive, many orders of magnitude higher than any natural background level of sea lice.

Fisheries scientists are clear that smolts, heavily infected with sea lice, simply do not survive and do not return as adult fish.

It is also worth noting that, unlike the salmon farmers, who have published aggregated sea lice data for their farms since 2013, and who now have committed to publish by the end of April of this year full real-time farm-specific sea lice data, as well as all historic sea lice data, Dawnfresh does not publish its sea lice data, nor has made the same commitment to publish its historic data as the salmon farmers.

On top of this, Dawnfresh has also suffered two large escapes of fish from its farms since last August, from the new farm at Sailean Ruadh (Etive 6) and most recently of more than 5,000 rainbow trout from its farm on Loch Awe at Braevallich.

It is clear that Loch Awe and Loch Etive are suffering the effects of Dawnfresh fish-farming.

There can and should be no further expansion on either loch and current operations must be brought under stronger regulation, as the Scottish  Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has just indicated in its recent report into fish farming.

Keith Macmillan,

Trustee, Friends of Loch Etive.

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