Salmon producers agree to publish reports on fish deaths

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 12 February 2018 in News

With MSPs holding an inquiry into the salmon farming industry, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation suggested to the Environment Committee that producers would also consider publishing historical reports

Image credit: Ben-Benjamin

Scottish salmon producers have agreed to publish reports on the number of fish deaths caused by disease each year on a farm by farm basis, following concerns over the environmental impact of the industry on Scotland.

With the Scottish Parliament holding an inquiry into the salmon farming industry, David Sandison, general manager of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, suggested to MSPs at the Environment Committee that producers would also consider publishing historical reports.

Sandison said: “We will provide mortality data at farm level and will, from time to time, give a commentary on any disease issues that might be associated with that mortality.”

He added: “There is absolutely no problem with our being completely open and transparent about that data. There is nothing that we wish to hide away.”

Around 146,000 fish escape from salmon farms on average each year, while campaigners have highlighted a 10-15 per cent mortality rate among farmed salmon, with some farms seeing mortality rates rise to 40 per cent.

Meanwhile data from the industry suggests there were 10 million fish mortalities in 2016, out of a total 65 million farmed salmon in Scotland.

Alex Rowley pointed to mortality rates, saying: “When 20 to 25 per cent of fish are dying of disease, you must surely say that there is a problem at the core of your business.

“Do you not agree that, rather than expand the business, you have to start looking at the problems? I am not getting the sense that there is a clear understanding of the issues.”

In an attempt to allay concerns, the SSPO announced that, subject to agreement with regulators, it plans to publish monthly reports on each farm.

Sandison said: “The industry has been chastened for a long time about the supply of information on sea lice numbers on the farms in Scotland. For the committee’s benefit and for the wider public, I can confirm that, from here on and forthwith, we will publish all data on sea lice counts on farms in Scotland on a farm-by-farm basis. That will back up the decision that the SSPO board took in November last year, which is now in the public domain.”

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