Media coverage Nov 2018
Undercurrentnews.com, 27 November 2018
BBC News website, 27 November 2018
Herald Scotland, 27 November 2018
Salmon farmers must address "serious concerns" before expanding
SCOTLAND’S booming salmon farming industry should not be allowed to expand any further without overhauling its environmental standards, an inquiry has found.
An in-depth probe by MSPs recommended handing regulators robust new powers to limit or close down production on farms where fishes regularly succumb to disease and infection.
It comes after campaigners warned salmon farming – which is worth more than £1 billion to Scotland’s economy – was turning the country’s seas into an “open sewer”.
But despite calling for tougher regulations, Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee insisted there was “insufficient evidence” for a moratorium on new salmon farm development.
Only two MSPs, the Scottish Green’s John Finnie and Labour’s Colin Smyth, supported a temporary ban.
Scottish Tory MSP Edward Mountain, the committee’s convener, said the salmon farming industry offers “significant economic and social value to Scotland”.
He said: “There is a desire within the industry to grow. However, if this is to happen, it is essential that the serious challenges it faces such as the control of sea lice, lowering fish mortality rates and reducing the sector's impact on the environment are addressed as a priority.
"If the reputation of Scottish salmon as a premium product is to be maintained, Scotland's salmon farmers must demonstrate responsible and sustainable production methods.
“Importantly, the committee is strongly of the view that the status quo in terms of regulation and enforcement is not acceptable, and that we need to raise the bar in Scotland by setting enhanced and more effective standards.”
Salmon is Scotland’s biggest food export, but there are widespread concerns over sea lice, the spread of disease and the high mortality rate of farmed fish, as well as the impact of the sector on wild salmon.
MSPs have now made 65 recommendations to improve the industry, with their report insisting “maintaining the status quo in terms of the regulatory regime in Scotland is not an option”.
It raised concerns over “extremely high mortality rates” at some farms, and insisted no expansion should be permitted at sites which report high or significantly increased levels of fish deaths until these are addressed.
The inquiry also called for greater transparency over mortality rates and disease outbreaks, and recommended a review be carried out into the transportation and disposal of dead fish.
MSPs said they had “difficulty in understanding” how the farmed salmon sector can expand if the scourge of gill disease is not tackled, while also noting an effective way to deal with sea lice infestations had yet to be identified.
The issue of waste collection and removal, meanwhile, “needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency”.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, welcomed the report.
She said: “The Scottish salmon farming sector is at a critical phase of its development and the committee’s recommendation that regulation should be improved to keep pace with potential growth is encouraging.
“We produce the world’s most sought-after farmed salmon and are fully aware that, with that, comes the responsibility to ensure world-class fish welfare and environmental standards.”
She said the sector is already voluntarily reporting lice levels and working to improve fish health and welfare.
Herald Scotland, 26 November 2018
Rare reefs at risk of destruction spark plea over illegal dredging
They are teeming with rare wildlife and are nurseries for much of the country’s fish stocks which drive much of the rural economy.
But illegal dredging from scallop boats can destroy the fragile ecosystems in sea lochs and recent reports of alleged illegal dredging have prompted industry groups, charities, and politicians to call for urgent government action.
The Scottish White Fish Producers Association (SWFPA) are calling on ministers to introduce electronic monitoring of all scallop boats in the country in a bid to stop illegal dredging.
It follows an investigation carried out in part by Scottish marine charity Open Seas into dredging in Loch Gairloch. They found from underwater footage that the seabed had signs of disturbance within the protected area, which is illegal.
Scallops are usually caught by dredging boats, which drag heavy equipment, often weighing more than 2 tonnes, along the sea bed. This plows the ocean floor like a field collecting scallops but often destroying rare reefs and wildlife in the process.
This is illegal in certain protected areas across Scotland including Marine Protected Areas, set up by the Scottish Government in 2014.
The investigation into Loch Gairloch was done independently of the Scottish Government, since Open Seas said that it "doesn't hold particularly high hopes’ for a conclusive Marine Scotland investigation.
Now Mike Park, CEO of the SWFPA, has written to the Cabinet Secretaries for Rural Economy and the Environment, Fergus Ewing and Roseanna Cunningham, calling for further action to stop illegal dredging.
In the letter, Mr Park said: “We are committed to maintaining the integrity of the Scallop sector, a commitment that leaves no place for illegal fishing as was reported by Open Seas very recently within Loch Gairloch.
“We are now calling on the Scottish Government to introduce such measures on board every vessel dredging for scallops, irrespective of size.
“We recognise the commitment the Scottish Government has made to broaden the requirement for vessel monitoring and understand that planning is now underway for the introduction of appropriate monitoring technology for the inshore fleet from 2020.
“We ask you to consider as a priority the introduction of a licence condition which makes it illegal to dredge for scallops without a secure onboard vessel monitoring system.”
The latest evidence comes after Loch Carron near Plockton was subject to dredging last year.
Damage to the rare flame-shell reef, thought to be the largest in the world, caused speculation that it could take decades to recover.
Earlier this year a team of divers also claimed to have uncovered evidence of illegal scallop dredging in the protected area around the Firth of Lorn.
MPAs have been set up all over Scotlish waters in order to protect rare wildlife such as the common skate which has been critically endangered since 2006.
Scotsman, 26 November 2018
Sunday Times, 25 November 2018
Loch Duart suffers record salmon deaths
Scotsman, 21 November 2018
BBC News website, 21 November 2018
The Scotsman, 21 November 2018
BBC News website, 21 November 2018
Herald Scotland 19 November 2018
Oban Times, 12 November 2018
SEPA propose firmer salmon farming regulations
The head of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) believes the ‘status quo is not an option’ when it comes to salmon farming regulation after the environmental agency announced proposals for a revised regime that aims to strengthen the regulation of the salmon farming sector.
The proposals follow one of Scotland’s largest, most comprehensive research projects into aquaculture, in which SEPA stated that Scottish salmon farm medicine is significantly impacting local marine environments.
The survey, Fish Farm Survey Report – Evaluation of a New Seabed Monitoring Approach to Investigate the Impacts of Marine Cage Fish Farms, examined environmental impacts from eight Scottish fish farms. More than 300 chemical samples were analysed from 93 sample stations and 296 ecological samples from 142 sample stations.
Samples for chemical analysis were analysed for traces of two different sea lice medicine last used in 2013. The medicine chemicals were detected in 98 per cent and 46 per cent of samples respectively, with residues more widely spread in the environment around fish farms than had previously been found. Moreover, the research concluded that the impacts of individual farms may not be contained to the vicinity of individual farms.
SEPA chief executive, Terry A’Hearn, said: ‘We agree that ‘the status quo is not an option’ which is why we’re announcing firm, evidence based proposals for a revised regime that will strengthen the regulation of the sector. As part of a Scotland-wide consultation, we’re now keen to hear directly from individuals, interest groups, NGOs, communities, companies and others on their views on the proposals as we move to strengthen our regulatory approach.’
The research survey was published last Wednesday (November 7) as part of proposals by SEPA, one of a number of organisations regulating finfish aquaculture, for a revised regime that will strengthen SEPA’s regulation of the sector.
The findings come after 16 months of work by SEPA, including a 2017 consultation, and two Scottish Parliamentary committees, one of which concluded that ‘the status quo is not an option’, adding that the industry’s expansion goal ‘will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment’ unless governance and practices are improved markedly.
A public consultation will be held in Portree on November 20 at Skye Gathering Hall and then Fort William on December 6 at Nevis Centre, with both events taking place between 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
A full list of public consultation events can be found on the SEPA website.
SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn believes ‘the status quo is not an option’ when it comes to salmon farming regulation.
The Herald, 8 November, 2018
Salmon farming "has to change"
BBC News website, 7 Nov 2018