S&TC(S) responds to BBC for biased report on salmon farms.

Dear Sirs

Salmon farming report on Reporting Scotland – 6.30 pm 14 February 2017

We wish to complain about the markedly biased report on salmon farming and the impact of sea lice parasites – as aired above.

The journalist Douglas Fraser appeared to be a cheerleader for the salmon farming industry; his primary concern seemed to be the possible impact on Scotland plc and prospects for the industry’s further expansion. He asked no searching questions of the industry’s spokespersons and he allowed highly dubious and erroneous statements to go unchallenged.

It was stated that the sea lice parasite is “carried on wild fish”, clearly implying that wild fish were responsible for the salmon farming industry’s problems with sea lice. This is nonsense. There are background levels of sea lice in the natural environment. Salmon farms, which host hundreds of thousands of salmon closely packed together in an enclosed space, act as highly efficient incubators for sea lice to breed and multiply – that is the crux of the issue. Salmon farms themselves create the explosion in sea lice numbers.

Salmon farming spokesman Scott Landsburgh sought to brush off the issues by referring to sea lice as a “natural phenomenon”. Why was this inane comment not challenged for the reasons above?

The report failed to even mention the serious implications for and the damage to wild salmon and sea trout when salmon farms fail to control the burgeoning sea lice numbers that they are responsible for. Why was no-one interviewed to give a wild fish perspective?

Douglas Fraser referred to the “pristine clean environment” in which salmon are farmed in Scotland. This is very far from the reality, as anyone who has dived under or by salmon farm cages, where the volume of excrement creates an environment devoid of any life, will testify.

The BBC has a duty to be impartial and balanced. This report failed dismally to live up to this basic standard.

Andrew Graham-Stewart

Director – Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland