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09/10/2013 - Norway orders slaughter of two million sea-lice infested farmed salmon in order to protect wild salmon


The Norwegian authorities have   recently ordered that some two million sea-lice infested farmed salmon in the   Vikna district of Nord Trondelag be slaughtered with immediate effect after   becoming resistant to chemical treatments against the sea-lice parasite. The   action has been prompted specifically to protect wild young salmon (smolts)   migrating through the fjords to the open sea next May and June from huge   numbers of juvenile sea-lice being produced on and released from particular   salmon farms that have been unable to control their lice numbers.

Last week the Salmon and Trout   Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)) wrote to the Scottish Government,   drawing attention to the situation in Norway and asking what consideration it   is giving to applying “similar punitive sanctions” against salmon farm   operators in Scotland which are unable to keep sea-lice numbers below agreed   thresholds.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of   S&TA(S), said:

“Norway’s clamp-down on those salmon   farms where sea-lice numbers are out of control shows that it takes the   protection of wild salmon seriously. The contrast with the situation in   Scotland could hardly be more marked. Here the salmon farming industry’s own   figures confirm that sea-lice numbers have been out of control for many   months on farms in areas such as West Sutherland and the northern part of   Wester Ross and yet the Scottish Government declines to take any action   whatsoever. It is difficult to reach any other conclusion but that Scottish   Government has decided that west coast wild salmon and sea trout are   expendable and that such a price is worth paying in the interests of salmon   farming and its expansion.”

Under Norway’s regulatory regime the   Norwegian Food Safety Authority can levy significant fines of up to 200,000   kroner (some £20,000) per day on salmon farm operators where sea-lice   levels on farmed salmon remain over accepted sea-lice thresholds.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the   S&TA(S) Aquaculture Campaign, said:

“If the companies operating in the   far north-west Highlands where lice numbers were consistently well above   industry thresholds for the first half of 2013 – Wester Ross Fisheries and/or   Scottish Sea Farms in the Kennart to Gruinard region and Loch Duart Ltd in   the Inchard to Kirkaig North region – had been subject to the Norwegian   regulatory regime, they could well have been liable for fines amounting to   hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds.

Scotland needs to be sure that its regulatory regime is   able to respond decisively like that in Norway, not only in terms of fines   but also the transparency of sea-lice numbers. In Norway, salmon farmers are   required by law to report sea-lice data on a farm-specific basis to the   authorities, together with details of sea-lice treatments and the efficacy or   otherwise of such treatments, which then enables the Norwegian authorities to   reduce the threat to wild salmon and sea trout and, as we have just seen, where   necessary order the culling of millions of infested farmed salmon”.

Why are sea lice on fish-farms such a   threat to wild salmonids?

The negative impact of sea lice,   produced in huge numbers by fish farms, on wild salmonids (salmon and sea   trout) is widely accepted by fisheries scientists including the Scottish   Government’s own Marine Scotland Science (see Note 8).

In Ireland, the Government of   Ireland’s agency, Inland Fisheries Ireland, is crystal clear as to where the   problem lies (see Note 9):

“The presence of salmon farms has   been shown to significantly increase the level of sea lice infestation in sea   trout in Ireland, Scotland and Norway. These lice infestations have been   shown to follow the development of marine salmon aquaculture….studies from Ireland,   Scotland and Norway have shown that in bays where salmon farming takes place   the vast majority of sea lice originate from salmon farms……”

Most recently, a new paper published   in 2013 by a group of fisheries experts from Norway, Canada and Scotland re-analyses   data from various Irish studies and shows that the impact of sea lice on wild   salmon causes a very high loss (34%) of those returning to Irish rivers (see   Note 10).

Most   importantly, there is clear evidence that both wild salmon and sea trout are   in decline in Scotland’s ‘aquaculture zone’, whereas, generally, populations   have stabilized on the east and north coasts where there is no fish-farming

See for pdf of letter “Culling of   sea-lice infested farmed salmon in Norway” from S&TA(S) to the Minister   for the Environment and Climate Change

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Martin James Fishing
Email: [email protected]