Paul Knight urges everyone who cares about wild salmon to participate.
The time has come for another call to arms for salmon anglers, and all those who wish to see our wild salmon and sea trout protected from the ravages of the Scottish salmon farming industry. Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland, the Scottish section of S&TC UK, has launched an online petition calling for the Scottish Government to regulate salmon farms far more closely to protect wild salmon and sea trout. We need you all to sign it!
The public petition, “Protecting wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms”, which is hosted on the Scottish Parliament’s website, requests the Scottish Parliament to urge its Government to strengthen the legislative and regulatory control of marine fish farms in order to protect wild salmon and sea trout.
The petition is here:
It follows our recent publication of a detailed report into the control of sea lice on Scottish fish farms over the last two years.
The report highlights the huge sea lice problem and the need for urgent Government action to protect wild salmon and sea trout in the west Highlands and Islands. Recent Government data has shown that the overwhelming majority of salmon rivers in the region are failing even rudimentary conservation targets, so urgent action is required to reverse this degradation which is a blight on Scotland’s environmental reputation.
At the moment, the salmon farming industry operates under a voluntary code of practice, which states that farmed fish should be treated for lice once the parasites reach a certain level on the caged fish. The industry wants to protect its product, of course, but the theory is also that by treating the lice before their population explodes and the young swim freely to attach to wild salmon and sea trout, then wild fish can be protected as well.
The flaw to this voluntary action is that there is no requirement for treatments to actually be successful! One supermarket recently excused its purchase of farmed salmon from a particular company (that had lice counts of 40 times the voluntary limit) by saying that the lice hadn’t responded to treatment, but at least the farm had tried. That seemed to be sufficient for the retailer to convince itself that it was buying from a sustainable source, regardless of the enormous potential for severe damage to wild fish. It was quite happy with its moral stance in serving this tainted product to its customers, because its supplier was operating within the voluntary code.
These are clearly unacceptable operating principles, both by the farm and the retailer, and the only way to stop this nonsense is to make lice control – indeed, the whole voluntary code – mandatory. If lice reach a certain limit, then the whole farm should be immediately harvested to avoid any chance of contaminating wild fish. If a farm fails to operate under this mandatory code, then it should be prosecuted; no excuses accepted. That is the basic principle behind our petition.
So, please do your bit for wild salmon and sea trout protection by signing the petition now – please don’t wait! The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) has a special session on salmon farming at its annual meeting in June, and we need as much pressure as possible on the Scottish Government by then to make them regulate the Scottish industry as closely as the Norwegian Government does theirs. It is often the same company operating in both countries, so why, we are asking Scottish politicians, should the farmers be allowed to trash wild Scottish salmon and sea trout populations when they are prevented from doing so in Scandinavian fjords by stronger regulation in Norway?