The Shetland Factor

Many believe salmon farming is an issue exclusive to wild fish in the west Highlands and Hebrides. However, controlling sea lice on farms in Shetland is just as important as our Scottish Director, Andrew Graham-Stewart explains...

The official figures for rod catches of salmon in Scotland during 2018 were published last week. That they were the lowest since official records began was hardly a surprise. There has been a downward trend for several years and last year’s depressing figures were exacerbated and indeed partly explained by extreme conditions; on the majority of rivers most of the summer was unfishable as flows became trickles in the extended drought and temperatures soared. Incidentally it is worth noting that the season was not a universal write-off; despite the conditions, catches on the North Highland rivers were reasonably buoyant (albeit condensed into short periods) and the run registered by the fish counter on the Helmsdale was one of the best for years.

Looking at 'farm by farm' sea lice data

Back in autumn 2017, on the basis of data obtained under FOI (its release by Scottish Government was only forthcoming after our successful appeal to the Information Commissioner), we were able to analyse, for the first time, weekly sea lice numbers on a farm by farm basis; prior to this we only had access to regional monthly averages.

Between November 2016 and August 2017, the period for which the data was forthcoming, the worst performing company in the Scottish Islands and overall worst performing company in Scotland was Grieg Seafood Shetland Ltd. For months on end its Shetland farms’ figures were massively above the industry’s code of good practice trigger threshold for treatment; some of the numbers were eye-watering – in one week on one farm the average number of adult female sea lice per fish was a staggering 29.

I commented at the time:

“Grieg Seafood’s lamentable record exemplifies the very widespread failure to control sea lice in Shetland. It is no wonder that mature wild sea trout have been wiped out in these islands.”

What this means for wild smolts

In the last 18 months there has been little improvement in sea lice control by salmon farms on Shetland, where over 20% of Scotland’s tonnage is concentrated. It remains a hotbed of lice production, with the farms consistently pumping out billions of sea lice larvae into the wider environment. What this means is that any wild salmon smolts passing within 20 miles (studies show that elevated levels of sea lice emanating from a farm may be found up to a distance of 31 km) either side of Shetland are highly vulnerable to picking up lethal infestations of the deadly parasites.

There is scant knowledge of the migration route(s) taken by smolts from Scottish east and north coast rivers. But a cursory glance at a map suggests that it is a reasonable supposition that they will pass close to Shetland as they head north towards the feeding grounds of the North Norwegian Sea.

There is a tendency amongst those who manage and/or fish on these rivers, including the Big Four, to view salmon farming as only being an issue for wild fish in the west Highlands and Hebrides. In numerous conversations with east and north coast river managers over the last two years I have raised the scenario that sea lice from Shetland farms may well be impacting their smolt survival. On reflection (most had not considered the possibility) all have agreed that this could easily be a significant factor.

Indeed, from a wild fish perspective, the control of sea lice on farms may be just as important in Shetland (and indeed Orkney), with the possible implications for east and north coast smolts, as it is in the west Highlands and Hebrides.

- Andrew Graham-Stewart, Scottish Director 

For Scottish Enquiries contact: director@salmon-troutscotland.org

Header photo credit: Eva Thorstad

We all have a responsibility to save the ‘King of Fish’

The publication of new Environment Agency byelaws banning the killing of salmon in the North East drift and coastal nets was very welcome news earlier this year and brought to a close a campaign by fisheries organisations that lasted some 30 years.

Scotland banned drift netting in 1962 and closed down its coastal nets in 2016, so most UK salmon are now able to reach their rivers of birth unhindered by home-water netting. It was a tremendous way to begin the International Year of the Salmon. However, the same is not true of salmon feeding off the West Coast of Greenland, an area where many of the UK’s multi-sea-winter fish go to fatten up. 

Getting the quotas right

The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) was originally established more than 30 years ago to set quotas for Greenland and the Faroe Islands, who between them caught nearly 4,000 tonnes of salmon at the height of their respective commercial fishing industries (Greenland in the mid 1970s and the Faroes early 1980s).  The Faroe Islands have not fished for salmon since 2000, although they reserve the right to do so if the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) ever report again that there is enough of a surplus of fish in the North Atlantic to exploit.

Greenland is much more complicated. For many years, NASCO gave the Greenlanders a subsistence quota of around 20 tonnes of salmon – fish that could be caught and either sold in the local open-air markets or kept for food by the fishermen.  Commercial fishing was not allowed, and export was banned.  Private funds were even given from around the North Atlantic countries with recreational fishing to the Greenlanders to help them re-equip and target different species.

However, monitoring and enforcement of salmon fishing by the Greenland Government was only really tightened some five years ago, when it became clear that the actual salmon catch was veering towards 100 tonnes a year.  To be fair, it is a thankless task trying to oversee any coastal activity in Greenland, as the West Coast communities are so disparate – there is no road connection between them, with travel limited to those with access to either boat or plane.  However, when Government officials started to phone round the fishing community and ask for catch statistics, alarm bells were rung.

The current situation

In 2015, Greenland accepted a quota of 45 tonnes agreed at NASCO.  Unfortunately, some people with little knowledge of the background ridiculed NASCO for the size of the quota, when in realistic terms, it was actually halving the amount of fish that was now known to have been caught in previous years.  Coupled to the new quota was a new management and regulatory system adopted by the Greenland Government which put much greater emphasis on monitoring and reporting.  In 2018, the quota was reduced to 30 tonnes.

The bad news is that Greenland has just reported a catch of 40 tonnes for 2018!  However, rather than a return to the bad days, at least the government has a handle on the fishery now and, if it abides by the NASCO agreement, the 10-tonne excess will be taken off the quota for this season, which is comforting news for our MSW (Multi Sea Winter) fish.

What this means closer to home...

All this regulation and government support at Greenland and the Faroe Islands means that UK governments have an extra responsibility to protect salmon stocks at home.  Good for Scotland and England in taking decisive action over coastal netting, but we still have serious issues to address – open-net salmon farming, agricultural impact on water quality, habitat degradation, water abstraction, barriers to migration, predation – and for that we need a political commitment throughout the UK which is sadly lacking at the moment.

I have some sympathy for Greenlanders who generally have a far better grasp of what ‘sustainable exploitation’ means than we ever have – they still derive much of their protein from natural resources and realise how important it is to manage those stocks effectively.  So when an angler lands a salmon in the UK and has to return it to the water because of byelaws or fishery rules, rather than curse the regulators, spare a thought for the Greenlanders and Faroese and their sacrifice in the name of conservation.

Better still, understand that, as Sir David Attenborough said in our recent video, if we are not to lose the King of Fish for ever, we all have to play our part, in whatever way we can, to help Atlantic salmon through their present crisis. The International Year of the Salmon gives us the opportunity to focus on that very stark warning, and act now!

- Paul Knight, CEO

International Year of the Salmon – Our annual seminar in Wales

Latest figures reveal populations in 21 of the country’s 23 principle salmon rivers to be probably at risk or at risk of failing to meet their conservation limits. It was with this thought in mind that the recent S&TC Cymru annual seminar took on an International Year of the Salmon theme, posing the question: “Can we save the Atlantic salmon?”

The overall consensus

Robust presentations citing the latest discoveries in our understanding of salmon population dynamics left delegates in no doubt that a new approach towards habitat management and water quality management is required if we are to maximise spawning success and achieve maximum escapement. Learn more about how S&TC are fighting for healthy habitats here.

Central to achieving good water quality is a science-backed understanding of what the pressures are. Our Riverfly Census provides critical insights into the health of the freshwater environment, but also provides benchmarks against which to assess the success or otherwise of various management interventions.

It is imperative that the Riverfly Census work is continued through its future development and expansion into S&TC’s SmartRivers; where local people will be able to harness the power of species-level invertebrate analysis to pinpoint water quality pressures on their own rivers.

Summary of the day

Proceedings began with a passionate personal account by author and broadcaster Will Millard of the important role salmon, clean rivers and wild fish have played in his life and his desire to see them restored and protected. Our CEO Paul Knight explained the important and role S&TC has played over the past century advocating on behalf of salmon while deputy CEO Nick Measham revealed the manner in which our Riverfly Census can be used to highlight the threats facing the invertebrate population upon which salmon parr depend.

Dr Nigel Milner related the role played by the IFM at NASCO and the need to revise current stock assessment methods to better understand and predict the dynamics of salmon populations. Ian Davidson of NRW continued the stock assessment theme and the
important role played by the Welsh Dee or Dyfrdwy as an index river. The dynamics and fate of small and declining salmon populations were presented by Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz of Swansea University who also drew attention to the hitherto underestimated importance of salmon choosing to spawn in different rivers to those in which they originated. The morning session was drawn to a close by author and Gamefisher editor Tom Fort who narrated a fascinating thousand year history of salmon exploitation in British rivers by both nets and rods.

The afternoon session got under way with a comprehensive and encouraging report from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s Environment Programme Manager, Gail Davies, on the company’s
contributions towards conserving the freshwater environment and safeguarding the future of our wild fish. Dr Guy Mawle gave a detailed and valuable account of his own thoughts and observations, posing some challenging questions regarding possible reasons for recent declines in reported salmon numbers from his home river, the Usk. Drawing the theme of the day to a close, Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE of Afonydd Cymru and the Wye and Usk Foundation related his own conclusions drawn from a long and intimate connection with the Wye and offered some valuable suggestions on the steps required if we are to see our salmon stocks return to truly sustainable levels.

Our Fundraising Manager, Guy Edwards, then gave a short but powerful presentation on the value of our financial independence and the need to allow science to lead us in our campaigning efforts. This was followed by S&TC trustee Tony Bostock who provided a very useful summary of the day’s proceedings before thanking the contributors for their valuable contributions.

Seminar coordinator and S&TC’s National Officer for Wales, Richard Garner Williams, wishes to thank all concerned for making the day such a success and looks forward to repeating the exercise in 2020.

Header image credit: Alan Ward at country field media.

For Welsh enquiries contact: wales@salmon-trout.org

For Riverfly Census enquiries contact: lauren@salmon-trout.org

Local myth-busting with the Riverfly Census Conclusions

You’ve probably seen our local Riverfly Census Conclusion reports popping up over the past few weeks. Now we’re tying up the Riverfly Census project, we thought it would be useful to let you know what these reports mean, how they can be used and the exciting things planned as we draw closer to the big Riverfly Census finale in May!

 

A bit of Riverfly Census background

At S&TC we were determined to grasp a true biological picture of our rivers, because detailed, robust baselines of their health are missing.

Without a strong data baseline it is difficult to pinpoint exact pressures or confidently measure improvement. A doctor could not assess your health without scans, tests or a family history - our rivers are no different! Cue the launch of the Riverfly Census, a national research project developed to assess and diagnose the health of a variety of UK rivers.

Aquatic invertebrates were our ‘scan’ of choice because:

They represent a long-term picture, much more informative than a single point water sample, as in nymph form they are exposed to the water sometimes for years.

They are excellent story tellers as every invertebrate species thrives in a specific set of conditions. The types of bugs present and absent from a sample indicate what pressures a river may be experiencing.

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC are a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value- we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.

What's next?

There are still a few local reports to be completed, but our main focus at the moment has been putting together the national Riverfly Census conclusions; an overarching document with evidence based recommendations from our data.

The most powerful aspect of our Riverfly Census was that all the data was collected and analysed independently by professionals. Because of this, the Census is not just more science for the sake of science, it is usable data that can be used to shape environmental policy.

Wild salmon and trout need the best water quality possible to thrive, and if we can get decision makers to take on some of our recommendations, we believe we will get one step closer to achieving the environment they need.

 

The national Riverfly Census report will be launched on the 14th May 2019, so keep an eye on our social channels or sign up to our mailing list to stay in the know.

 

Header image credit: Don Stazicker

For Riverfly Census enquiries contact: lauren@salmon-trout.org

Scottish Government inertia marks anniversary of Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee’s report into salmon farming

Scottish Government inertia marks anniversary of Scottish Parliament's Environment Committee's report into salmon farming

Industry allowed to persist with business as usual a year after Government was told 'the status quo is not an option'

One year on from the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee’s report on the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming, the first part of the 2018 Scottish Parliament Inquiry into the industry, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS) is concerned that the report is being allowed to gather dust by both Scottish Government and the industry.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TCS, said:

“A year ago, the ECCLR Committee, could not have been clearer that any expansion of the industry ‘must be on the basis of a precautionary approach and must be based on resolving the environmental problems’ and that ‘the status quo is not an option’. It is obvious that almost nothing has changed and we fear that the Scottish Government’s game-plan is yet more of the prevarication that has allowed the industry to develop without meaningful regulation and at the expense of the coastal environment and those species, including migratory fish, which rely on healthy coastal ecosystems. Consequently, environmental damage is continuing and indeed increasing unchecked. Scottish Government’s completely unconditional support for the salmon farming industry must end.”

The 2018 Parliamentary Inquiry into salmon farming, as conducted by the ECCLR and REC Committees, was triggered by S&TCS' formal Petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee in 2016.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TCS, commented:

“The ECCLR Committee’s comprehensive report underlined why urgent action was required to protect wild salmon and sea trout. However, Scottish Government has not yet grasped the nettle and moved to legislate in order to improve markedly the protection of wild salmon and sea trout from the negative impacts of salmon farming.”

 

SSPO still failing to publish farm by farm sea lice data in as close to real time as possible

On transparency, the ECCLR Committee’s report was adamant that the industry should publish weekly data on sea lice figures on a farm by farm basis in as close to real time as possible, together with all historic data “from the time records are available”, this to be done
by the end of April 2018.

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation has not honoured this deadline, nor is it publishing current farm by farm sea lice data in as close as possible to real time, as the Committee required. In contrast it is only publishing monthly sea lice averages per farm more than three months in arrears and it is to the Scottish Government’s shame that they have not amended secondary legislation to force transparency on this most important of issues.

Welsh charities join forces for World Fish Migration Day

World Fish Migration Day

This Saturday we will be helping to celebrate the third World Fish Migration day. There will be a number of fascinating events and activities in Wales for people to enjoy and learn more about the life-cycle of migratory fish species.

This global initiative aims to highlight the importance of conserving migratory fish species and aquatic ecosystem. Approximately 50 countries will celebrate this inspiring day and more than 2,000 organisations are participating in the occasion, holding over 400 events ranging from dam removals and river clean-up activities to educational seminars and fishing events.

All around the world, people depend on fish for livelihoods, economic value and healthy ecosystems. But fish also depend on people, to be able to freely migrate and thrive. There are around 15,000 freshwater fish species known to migrate in some way during their life cycle including our wild salmon and sea trout. Around 1,100 of these are long-distance migratory fish that depend on free-flowing rivers to thrive, including the iconic European eel that migrates over 10,000 km between the Sargasso Sea and European.

Richard Garner Williams, National Officer for Salmon & Trout Conservation Cymru said:

“We are supporting this important initiative because it is vital that we raise awareness about the need to improve and restore our watery environments for migratory fish.

Rivers provide many services for us including water supply, hydropower, and irrigation but often these activities are carried out at high cost to the environment and migratory fish species. We would therefore urge people to attend some of the local events that are being organised in Wales as part of World Fish Migration Day. These will help all ages learn more about our rivers and importantly how we can make these safe havens for our very special fish species.”

Events being held across Wales on Saturday 21stApril for World Fish Migration Day include: 

  1. Super Sewin Saturday. Whitland Memorial Hall, Whitland, Carmarthenshire. S&TC Cymru, The West Wales Rivers Trust and natural Resources Wales. Open from: 11:00 – 14:00. Free admission. Presentations by : Dr Graeme Harris (renowned sea trout expert) - “ Welsh Sea Trout: recent developments and new questions” Dave Mee (Senior Adviser Fisheries, NRW) – “Science and the Sewin” Richard Garner Williams (S&TC Cymru) – “The Meaning of Sewin” Helen Jobson and Lloyd Williams (WWRT) – Riverfly Demonstration

Contact Richard Garner Williams    e. wales@salmon-trout.org   m. 078 0905 6152

  1. “Radyr Weir Fish Migration Day”Radyr Weir, Cardiff : South East Wales Rivers Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff Harbour Authority, Cardiff Council and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water from 10am-3pm. Entry is free, so bring the whole family along and join us for face painting, fun competitions and art and craft activities.  Pictures of work the Trust and others have carried out to improve fish migration on the River Taff, and in other areas, will be on display, along with a sample of river life. There will also be talks by organisations about their work in and along the Taff that has helped to transform a river, once blighted by industry, into one that is recognised far and wide for its fish populations, as well as wildlife.

Contact Tony Rees m. 07702435021    t. 01685723520  e. tony.rees@sewrt.org

  1. Journey with a fish up the River DeeChester Weir, Chester, The Welsh Dee Rivers Trust, Natural Resources Wales and the North Wales Wildlife Trust.  Admission is free and it runs from 11:00 – 14:00 pm
  2. Exploring the Afon Einig. Wye & Usk Fundation. The Wye and Usk Foundation’s event is at their HQ on The Square, Talgarth, Brecon LD3 0BW where they will be exploring the current status and hopes for the restoration of the Afon Ennig, a once prolific spawning ground for Wye salmon
  3. Swansea University Family Day.  This is a family day allowing families to learn about the research going on at Swansea. One of the activities will be a game illustrating the challenges faced by fish migrating downstream towards the sea. This activity will be run twice during the day so that as many attendees as possible can engage with it. Location: The Wallace Building, Singleton Park SA2 8PP

For more information on these events or World Fish Migration Day, please contact: Richard Garner Williams on email: wales@salmon-trout.org or m. 078 0905 6152 or visit the website for World Fish Migration Day at https://www.worldfishmigrationday.com

Pinpointing Pesticides – Our national survey now uses water insects to solve chemical puzzle

We are pleased to announce that pesticide fingerprints can now be detected using the Riverfly Census’ analytical tool kit… a massive breakthrough in monitoring water quality for neonicotinoids and other insect killing chemicals 

The Riverfly Census can now show the impact of pesticides on water quality in addition to the threats from nutrients, sediments, organic pollution and river flow.  This is thanks to the incorporation of SPEAR modelling into his biometric finger printing by Dr. Nick Everall and his team at Aquascience Consultancy Limited.

This development is hugely important. Chemical testing for pesticides is costly and difficult. Pesticide pollution can be fleetingly brief, wrecking damage but dispersing between the EA’s chemical sampling dates. Invertebrates live in the river. They will show the impact of pesticide pollution long after the pollutant has dispersed. Invertebrate sampling and analysis is also much cheaper than its chemical counterparts.

By inputting our species-level results into the tool, known as SPEAR, we have demonstrated a clear impact of pesticides in several Census rivers including the Avon, the Wensum and the Welland. We will be incorporating a full SPEAR analysis of all our Census’ rivers in the full report due later this year.

Widespread harmful pesticide presence in UK rivers was recently highlighted by Buglife, in a report based on Environment Agency data. However, the Buglife report needed S&TC’s Riverfly Census data to provide evidence of actual ecological damage by showing the impact of pesticides on aquatic bugs. The combination of our Census’ species-level data and SPEAR allows us for the first time to assess the impact as opposed to the presence of harmful pesticides.

Results from the Avon and the Wensum indicate that pesticides are impacting water quality on top the phosphate and sediment pressures already shown in the Census. The Wensum’s water quality has ranked poorly throughout the three years of the Census while the Avon’s quality has nose-dived from good in 2015 to poor in 2017.

Graph showing that as SPEAR score goes over the WFD threshold, Avon Gammarus abundance mostly declines
Graph showing that as SPEAR score goes over the WFD threshold, Avon Gammarus abundance mostly declines

Avon results

  • Three of our five sites showed a moderate pesticide signature in the autumn 2016 results.
  • In autumn 2017, again three sites showed a pesticide signature but this time two sites scored poorly (Stratford Bridge and Ham Hatches) and one moderate (Stonehenge).

Wensum results

  • The impact of pesticides on the Wensum appears wide spread. 57% of the 30 samples we took at 5 sites during 2015, 2016 & 2017 on the Wensum had a pesticide biological signature of moderate or worse.
  • Fakenham Common showed a pesticide signature for all samples except spring 2016.
  • Pensthorpe Nature Park showed a pesticide signature for all samples except Spring 2017. Two of the samples achieved bad, demonstrating a high impact of pesticides on the biology here.

We are very excited about the powers of SPEAR and its potential to answer some of the big questions we all have about what pesticides are doing to our water life.

We are keen to work with the EA to seek wider adoption of SPEAR in their invertebrate water quality monitoring and river classification under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  In Europe, these measures of pesticide biological signatures are classed as WFD threshold failures for good ecological condition. We have already started analysing historic EA results with SPEAR.

We firmly believe the tool can be a great asset our quest to achieve more informed and effective management of our rivers.

For more information on the Riverfly Census email lauren@salmon-trout.org or click the button below:

To learn more about SPEAR click the following links:

Salmon Farming Update – The Power of Mass Media

Salmon Farming Update: Inquiry progress from our Scottish Director…

As someone who has done PR to a greater and lesser extent for wild fisheries interests for almost two decades, I am invariably pleased, when asked, to spend time explaining the issues to journalists. This approach often pays dividends as it maximises the chances of a story being informed and accurate from a wild fisheries perspective.

In February 2017 I received a call out of the blue from a freelance journalist called Joe Crowley, seeking information on the issue of the impact of sea lice from salmon farming on wild fish. We spoke for the best part of an hour and I sent him a wealth of material. Over the following months this correspondence continued as he immersed himself in the subject with the aim of him producing a documentary for BBC or Channel 4 – neither of which transpired. He did, however, persuade BBC1’s The One Show to commit to producing two short films, fronted by himself, on the massive scale of disease, parasites and mortalities on Scottish salmon farms. I was interviewed by Joe and The One Show team on the sea lice factor on a bitterly cold November morning in Wester Ross.

Joe’s two four-minute films, entitled “The Dead Salmon Run”, were aired on The One Show on consecutive evenings in mid-December. I confess that prior to this, because I never normally switch on the television until 8 pm at the earliest, I had not previously seen an episode of The One Show. The programme on the first evening opened with the spectacle of Robbie Williams up a stepladder affixing a fairy to the top of the Show’s Christmas tree. Immediately I was at a loss to understand how such celebrity culture could possibly blend with hard-hitting environmental material but seconds later the scale and reality of the disposal of thousands of tonnes of putrefying dead salmon was being beamed out across the UK as the intrepid reporter followed leaking waste trucks from one end of Scotland to another.

With an audience for The One Show of some 5 million the impact of the two films was seismic. For the next fortnight or so everyone I met or spoke to seemed to have seen them – and, more important, they were universally horrified as regards what actually happens in industrial-scale salmon farming. Critically the films seemed to touch a nerve amongst politicians.

I have no doubt at all that The One Show was a pivotal factor in what I can only describe as a sea change in attitude amongst the great majority of MSPs – they no longer believe the glib assurances of the industry that it is environmentally responsible and that disease and parasites are under control, they are appalled by its lax environmental standards and record, they are adamant that regulation must be tightened significantly and that closed containment must be positively investigated and embraced.

This all set the tone for the first stage of the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into salmon farming which kicked off in January with the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee considering the environmental impacts. In early March it published, signed off unanimously by MSPs from all parties, a truly damning report (“The status quo is not an option”).


VIEW REPORT

This report is underpinning the second stage of the Inquiry, now being carried by out the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee with its wider remit to look at the future of salmon farming. Wild fish interests, including S&TC Scotland, gave oral evidence on March 14. Clearly the Committee members were entirely accepting that salmon farming damages wild salmon and sea trout and the issues (particularly sea lice) must be addressed.


WATCH EVIDENCE

The REC Committee is inviting written evidence up to April 27. See http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Rural/Inquiries/REC_Salmon_Inquiry_CFV.pdf

We are certainly not complacent but the last few months have produced very significant political progress towards ending the harm being done to wild salmon and sea trout by radically changing the salmon farming industry for good. Stay tuned for the next salmon farming update.

Have your say on rivers in Wales

Rivers in Wales: have your say

Many of the rivers in Wales are facing a range of ecological threats which threaten to render them unfit for the wild fish and other aquatic wildlife that depend on clean freshwaters to survive.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural spring seminar, we have decided to provide another opportunity for stakeholders from all sides of the debate to share their views and help drive forward the changes required to protect these precious freshwater environments.

This year’s seminar will be held at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on Tuesday, April the 3rd.

Our Welsh National Officer Richard Garner Williams explains the significance of this event:

“It was evident from our seminar last year that a change in priorities and approach is required if we are to manage the land without detriment to the rivers in Wales.

As the only wholly independent charity campaigning for wild fish and their environment we are in a good position to act as mediator and catalyst in encouraging stakeholders to progress from the discussion stage and implement change.”

Many rivers in Wales are currently suffering from alarming levels of pollution from source to sea.

In the uplands, forestry plantations are causing the acidification of spawning grounds and nursery areas to the point that they are incapable of sustaining any complex life forms while in the lowlands, chronic and acute pollution arising from intensive agricultural practices is having a devastating effect, not only on fish but also on aquatic invertebrates such as mayflies, sedges and dragonflies as well as freshwater plantlife. This, in turn, is affecting the fortunes of other species such as kingfishers, dippers and otters which cannot survive without a flourishing freshwater environment.

Richard Garner Williams continues:

“It is appalling that many of our rivers in Wales are under as much threat from human activity now as they were at the height of the Industrial Revolution.

Agricultural pollution affects some 180 individual waterbodies in Wales and the number of reported pollution incidents shows no sign of a decline.

Restoring the health of the rivers in Wales to their former glory is paramount, and this year’s seminar will present the opportunity for us to dig deeper into the principle challenges arising from land management and identify workable and immediate solutions.”

The seminar will run from 10.00am to 3.00pm and will include a light lunch. A full list of contributors will be available in due course.

The event is free to attend for all those interested in the future health of rivers in Wales. To book a place to attend, please contact: Richard Garner Williams by email on: wales@salmon-trout.org. Places will be limited, so please book early in order to participate and have your say at this significant event.

Applauding the Environment Committee report into environmental impacts of salmon farming

Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland applauds Environment Committee report into environmental impacts of salmon farming. 

The Scottish Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has today published its report into the environmental impacts of salmon farming. This comprehensive report underlines why urgent action is required to protect wild salmon and sea trout


VIEW REPORT

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TC Scotland, said:

“Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland is delighted by the Committee’s Report.

This is a complete vindication of what we have been arguing for many years now, often in the face of denials and opposition from within Scottish Government and Scottish public authorities, that open cage salmon farming in sea lochs is way out of balance with the environment, particularly with the conservation of wild salmon and sea trout.

It was our formal Petition to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 that has led us to this moment.

We are grateful to all the MSP members of both the Petitions Committee and the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee and we will now work with the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, in their forthcoming review of salmon farming, to come up with the solutions.

For S&TC Scotland, that must mean, in the medium term, moving the entire industry into closed containment, either on land, or in marine structures, built by Scottish marine engineering expertise.

However, in the short term, there must be an immediate moratorium on all new farms or any expansion of existing farms, until all impacts, including those on wild salmon and sea trout are under proper control, which the Committee clearly realises is not the case today.

We also need an urgent change in Scottish law, to plug the gap in the law that fails to protect wild salmon and sea trout from the damage caused by fish farms. At last, that legal gap has been recognised and MSPs now have a duty to enact new law, as soon as they can, to protect these iconic Scottish species.”

Issued by Andrew Graham-Stewart (telephone 01863 766767 or 07812 981531) on behalf of Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland