S&TA(S) launches petition to stop all killing of wild salmon before 1st July for five years

The Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)), in conjunction with leading angling guide and consultant Ian Gordon, has today launched an online petition aimed at preventing any killing of wild salmon in Scotland before 1st July for the next five years. This follows two years of poor salmon runs and reflects an increasing appreciation that decisive action is required to help arrest the decline. In 2013 6,563 salmon were killed before 1st July – of which over two thirds were taken by nets.

The public petition, which is hosted on the Scottish Parliament’s website, also calls for an end to all coastal salmon netting, given that it is totally indiscriminate and incapable of distinguishing between river stocks which are healthy and those that are severely depleted. The cessation of coastal netting would enable the Scottish Government to honour its international conservation obligations, particularly under the NASCO treaty.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), commented:

“It is evident that the Scottish rod catch of salmon in 2014 was the lowest in over 60 years and just 50% of the ten year average. Decisive action is now needed to reduce significantly the number killed, particularly the most vulnerable stocks – those that arrive back on our coasts between January and June. Our proposals are for a five year period from 2016 in order to give any recovery in salmon numbers the best possible chance of success”.

Mr Campbell Adamson added:

“Whilst we welcome Scottish Government’s recent announcement that it will consult imminently on the introduction from 2016 of a ban on the killing of wild salmon except under licence in order to ensure that ‘any killing of salmon is sustainable’, we are adamant that this should be underwritten by a firm presumption that no licences whatsoever should be issued for any exploitation before July”.

Ian Gordon, an authority on salmon fishing in Scotland, commented: “A year ago I promoted my own online petition, calling for Scottish Ministers to stop the resumption of net fishing in the early spring after a 14 year voluntary cessation. This attracted over 20,000 signatures and I am pleased to note that Scottish Government has now introduced a conservation measure from the 2015 season banning any killing of salmon before 1st April. We now need to go much further and I hope that our new petition can build on this momentum so that the Scottish Parliament gives due priority to greater protection to our wild salmon, until such time as stocks of one of Scotland’s most iconic species show a marked recovery”.

The petition can be accessed through – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01547

The full text of the petition reads:

“Ian Gordon and the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) call upon the Scottish Parliament:

(i) in the interests of salmon conservation, and on a precautionary basis, to request Scottish Ministers to use their powers immediately under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003 Act to ensure that no Atlantic salmon are killed in Scotland for a period of five years from 2016 – by either nets or rods – before 1st July; and

(ii) in the case of fishing for salmon by coastal netting, to take such steps as are necessary to bring to an end the exploitation of wild salmon by Mixed Stock Fisheries at any time of year, in line with Scotland’s international commitments and obligations.”

Salmon & Trout Association Scotland (S&TA(S)) welcomes Scottish Government announcement that it will consult on a pioneering conservation measure to ban the killing of wild salmon except under licence

The Salmon & Trout Association Scotland (S&TA(S)) welcomes Scottish Government’s announcement today that it will consult imminently on the introduction of a ban on the killing of wild salmon except under licence in order to ensure that “any killing of salmon is sustainable”.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said: “We warmly welcome this bold move by Scottish Government. This announcement signals an acknowledgment and confirmation by Government that our wild salmon stocks are under considerable pressure and that they need as much protection as possible from indiscriminate killing.
“If this proposal is adopted and a licensing system is introduced in 2016, it will go a very considerable way towards ensuring that Scotland honours its international conservation obligations, particularly under the NASCO treaty”.

For the Scottish Government announcement, see:



Potentially impassable barrier for migrating salmon is a key concern

As if the proposed siting of this £3b wind farm project opposite the World Heritage Site off Dorset’s Jurassic Coast were not enough, its construction and location has the potential to affect detrimentally the salmon and sea trout populations from the rivers Test, Itchen, Avon, Stour, Frome and Piddle. The welfare of the migratory fish populations in all of these rivers is at stake, claims the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA), Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust (WCSRT), Test & Itchen Association and Test Salmon Group.

These leading charities and organisations for the aquatic environment, are adding their influence to the concerns raised about the adverse environmental impact such a huge project would have in an area that includes six SSSIs and four International Conservation Sites.

Evidence does demonstrate there is a risk to fish, including salmon, through exposure to acoustic shock, and the construction phase of this project will produce decibel levels well in excess of the known detrimental thresholds.

Paul Knight, from the S&TA declares, “We are deeply concerned that the noise during construction of turbine foundations could create barriers to movement for migrating fish, both adults returning to freshwater from the sea to spawn and juveniles (smolts) on their journey to sea to feed, as recognised in Navitus Bay’s own report. The lack of scientific understanding on the movement of these fish in the coastal areas – how long they stay or where they go exactly – makes it impossible to understand what impact the project could have and we believe impossible to mitigate completely.”

Paul Jose, from WCSRT added “While the risk of an impact has been carefully considered, the actual impact of the proposed development remains uncertain and we believe it cannot be concluded scientifically that there will be no impact on salmon populations. Salmon are protected by EU legislation and we believe that we must take a ‘precautionary approach’ to safeguard them and other protected species. We believe all possible measures should be taken to protect the endangered salmon populations of our Wessex rivers”.

Neil Freeman, from the Test & Itchen Association said “With the marked decline of Wessex Rivers salmon stocks over the last few decades it is imperative that all precautionary measures are taken to ensure this proposed project does not impact on the migratory patterns of what is an already fragile population”.

Nick Sotherton, from GWCT concludes, “Navitus Bay should invest in research so that we better understand the migration routes through local estuaries and through coastal waters.”

Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) and Afonydd Cymru ‘two cheers’ for Natural Resources Wales’s decision to phase out the use of cypermethrin in Welsh Government forestry

Responding to the outcome of the NRW’s Review of the Use of Cypermethrin in Forestry (1), the Salmon & Trout Association and Afonydd Cymru have broadly welcomed the environmental body for Wales, Natural Resources Wales, decision to end the use of cypermethrin in forestry by 2017.

While even three years of continuing use of the highly toxic pesticide, cypermethrin, in the Welsh Government Woodland Estate (formerly, the Forestry Commission Wales) is regrettable, we are pleased that the original plans for five years further use, as reflected in the application made for a further derogation to the Forestry Stewardship Council earlier this year, have been reduced.

Paul Knight Executive Director of the S&TA said

“As so much of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate is in upland areas, much of it in the headwaters of aquatic Special Areas for Conservation (SACs) such as the River Wye and the River Tywi, the Salmon & Trout Association believes that any further use of cypermethrin as a treatment for pine weevil is wrong and risks harming insect and fish life in those rivers which are supposed to be protected by NRW under the strictest possible conservation legislation we have.

The NRW must keep the use of cypermethrin under review over the next three years and must monitor Welsh headwaters very closely indeed.

If at any stage, it becomes clear that NRW cannot be sure that no harm is being caused, especially to the SACs and the species – such as native crayfish – for which those SACs were designated – then it must immediately stop using this toxic pesticide”.

In January 2014, the S&TA, together with Afonydd Cymru, objected strongly to the application made by NRW, as the successor body to the Forestry Commission Wales, for a derogation from the Forestry Stewardship Council’s certification process to allow them to continue to use the extremely toxic pesticide cypermethrin for the control of pine weevils for another five years (2).

At the time, the S&TA and Afonydd Cymru pointed out that to be granted an extension to the derogation NRW had to show that there were exceptional circumstances and that there was no evidence of negative impacts over the last five years of the use of cypermethrin. In its response to a consultation exercise, the S&TA and Afonydd Cymru clearly demonstrated there is more than sufficient evidence to suggest that damage has been caused including to the headwaters of the River Wye SAC and that exceptional circumstances did not apply.

It is quite clear that the deployment of the full range of alternative techniques and strategies would reduce the pine weevil threat, in all probability to a level at which the economic costs, if any, are easily bearable and certainly to a level at which the environmental benefit and the benefit to nature conservation would far outweigh the benefits of continuing to use cypermethrin.

However, despite already having enjoyed a five-year derogation from FSC rules since 2009, forestry interests argued that the industry was still not ready to deal with pine weevil without cypermethrin.

By way of compromise, the FSC awarded a three-year derogation to run to October 2017, permitting the use of cypermethrin but only”if a biological product, bioinsecticide or protective coating cannot be used” (3).

The S&TA will be putting NRW to proof, case by case, that when it uses cypermethrin in the WGWE over the next three years, that no alternative approaches could have been used instead. If that turns out is not to be the case that would constitute a breach of the conditions of the FSC derogation just granted.

Huw Evans, Chairman of Afonydd Cymru, said:

“Despite the three year window, the NRW, as successor body to the Forestry Commission Wales, must now demonstrate leadership and do all it can to end the use of cypermethrin in the Welsh Government Woodland Estate as soon as possible, as an example to all other public and, indeed, private forestry which still relies on this extremely toxic chemical, to the detriment of wildlife.”

Paul Knight concluded,”This is not a decision to keep using cypermethrin just as before. This is a decision to minimise use and for a maximum period of three years. Any hint of this being ‘business as usual’ and the S&TA will take action”.


  1. NRW (2014) A review of the use of cypermethrin and alpha-cypermethrin on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, 14th September 2014. Unpublished report.
  2. S&TA and AC (2014) Joint submission by the Salmon & Trout Association and Afonydd Cymru in response to the consultation on proposed application for a temporary derogation to use a highly hazardous pesticide. January 2014.
  3. FSC (2014) Pesticide Derogation for the Use of cypermethrin in the UK, granted 16th June 2014, ending 31st October 2017

Angling and Fisheries Organisations Welcome Abandonment of Cornish Fish Farm Plan

Angling and fisheries organisations are celebrating news that plans for a fish farm off the Cornish coast have been abandoned. This follows robust criticism of the initiative, which would have posed serious threats to salmon, sea trout and marine fish stocks.

The idea, promoted by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), a Government agency, was to grow rainbow trout in an open net cage unit. This would have been a similar system operated by the salmon farming industry off the west coast and Islands of Scotland, which has caused significant damage to wild salmon and sea trout, principally through the transfer of lethal parasitic sea lice and the interbreeding of wild and escapee farmed salmon, thereby diluting natural gene pools built up since the Ice Age.

There are presently no marine cage farms around the Welsh and English coasts, and fisheries organisations were universally opposed to creating what would have been a dangerous precedent. Such farms increase parasite infestation on wild fish, pollute the sea bed and surrounding waters, and risk escapes of farmed fish which compete with wild fish.

The coalition opposed to the scheme includes the South West Rivers Association (SWRA), the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers, the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA), the Angling Trust (AT), the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST), Wild Trout Trust (WTT), Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) and the Rivers Trust. The coalition lobbied CEFAS, Defra and Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, to squash the project on the grounds that it would be wholly irresponsible to jeopardise wild Cornish salmon and sea trout, and the vital local economy and jobs they support.

Roger Furniss, Secretary of South West Rivers Association, which first brought this issue to the public attention, said,”Our salmon and sea trout stocks already face too many threats from pollution, abstraction and low marine survival rates. The unwelcome proposal being promoted by CEFAS, a Government agency, could have been the final straw. The decision to abandon the project is great news.”

Paul Knight, S&TA’s CEO added,”English and Welsh salmon and sea trout have many man-made dangers to face, but thankfully not open net marine fish farming at the moment. Our experience in Scotland has shown that a farm off the Cornish coast could have killed wild salmon and sea trout by transferring disease and parasites from farm to the natural environment, and escapee rainbow trout would have run up Cornish and Devonian rivers, predating native species and competing with them for scant freshwater resources.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said:”It is good to see that this bizarre idea has been binned. Farming fish in the wild has had disastrous impacts in Scottish lochs, and it is hard to see how these risks couldn’t be much worse in seas that get battered by Atlantic storms on a regular basis. Our members in the south west are breathing a sigh of relief that this particular threat to their fishing has been removed. We remain concerned about the government’s interest in farming fish however, and will resist vigorously any initiatives that might put wild fish at risk.”

The coalition now plans to write to George Eustice and his Defra Department outlining the lessons learnt from this exercise. It will reiterate its previously stated view that no open cage salmonid units should be authorised in English coastal and off-shore waters and that any future marine salmon or trout farms must be in closed containment units which impose an impenetrable barrier between wild and farmed fish, completely preventing the dispersal of disease, parasites, waste matter and escapee farmed fish.


S&TA urges action to support Blueprint “Save Our Waters” Campaign

Today sees the launch of the “Save Our Waters” campaign, designed by the Blueprint for Water coalition to ensure that the voices of all who care about our rivers and waterways are heard at the highest level. The campaign’s launch coincides with the publication of the Environment Agency’s 2nd cycle draft River Management Basin Plans (dRMBP), 2015 – 2021, which in essence will determine how our rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches and wetlands, are managed over the next six years.

The Blueprint for Water coalition, the influential consortium of environmental NGOs which represents over 6 million members and which is chaired by the Salmon & Trout Association’s (S&TA) Head of Science, Janina Gray, has no confidence that these plans will adequately address the key problems facing our waterways today: problems such as pollution, over-abstraction, flooding and proper flood management, which all impact on the health of our rivers and the fish and wildlife that depend on them.

The “Save Our Waters” campaign initiative is spearheaded by the Blueprint to enable us, the people who care about our rivers and waterways, to have our say in how this precious resource is managed and husbanded, and to ensure that our feedback is heard. –

S&TA’s Head of Science, Janina Gray, declares, “Only 25% of our waters are considered to be in good health, our salmon stocks have declined by 40% since the 1970s and almost every day we read of pollution incidents that kill off the fish in large stretches of rivers and streams. This has got to stop! Please sign up to the Campaign and tell the EA that they are on notice to produce plans robust enough to halt and reverse this terrible decline.”

Paul Knight, S&TA CEO adds, “We fully endorse and support the Blueprint coalition because we believe that its aims not only complement ours, but also help us address an audience that embraces people who care about the water environment, as well as purely fisheries interests. The fact that our Head of Science is the first ever Chair of the Blueprint to come from a fisheries organisation demonstrates how valued the input of wider thinking anglers is alongside other environmental and conservation groups.

You can help save our fish and our rivers. Please support the Blueprint for Water coalition’s campaign at blueprintforwater.org.uk.

Environmental and Waterways groups welcome go ahead for Thames super sewer

Environmental charities and amenity groups representing over 5 million people who have been campaigning for a cleaner Thames in London have welcomed the decision of the government to go ahead with the long awaited and much needed Thames Tideway Tunnel.

The Thames Tunnel Now (TTN) coalition comprising national and local organisations – including S&TA, RSPB, WWF, London Wildlife Trust, Thames21, River Thames Society and angling and boating groups – has been calling since 2011 for the construction of a new tunnel under the Thames to stop tens of millions of tonnes of sewage overflowing into London’s river each year through the city’s 36 Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). The result of more than ten years of exhaustive research and development by Thames Water and the Environment Agency, the tunnel proposal has been declared by independent studies as the only viable solution to dealing with “London’s dirty secret whereby as little as 2mm of rain can cause the sewers to overflow directly into the river with devastating effects for fish and other wildlife.

This was highlighted in the recent video ‘You Poo Too’ which can be viewed here: http://www.thamestidewaytunnel.co.uk/the-project?q=up2

Following ministerial sign off the Planning Inspectorate this morning approved the application for Development Consent for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The project will now move to the construction phase.

Full details of the Government’s announcement can be viewed here:


Debbie Leach, Chair of Thames Tunnel Now and CEO of the waterways charity Thames 21 said:

“We welcome the Government’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. It will prove invaluable for the health of the river. Like me, thousands of Londoners use the river for rowing, angling, sailing and canoeing. Walkers and cyclists use the towpaths, and people often venture unknowingly on to the foreshore where sewage is currently deposited. The Thames Tideway Tunnel is the most important piece of the jigsaw that will once and for all clean up London’s river and encourage even more Londoners to connect with the Thames. We praise politicians of all parties for keeping their nerve and supporting a key environmental project which will see the end of ‘London’s Dirty Secret’.”

Dr. Janina Gray, S&TA Head of Science and Chair of the Blueprint for Water Coalition, declared, “This is wonderful news for all who have campaigned for a cleaner Thames, not least because of the positive impact this will have on the river’s fish and other aquatic creatures. We must bear in mind that clean, in itself, doesn’t necessarily mean healthy – there is a great deal of work still to be done before the Thames can properly be said to be a fully restored river, but this is a most important first step on that journey.”

Rob Cunningham, Head of Water Policy at the RSPB added:

“We welcome this announcement – the Thames Tideway Tunnel will make a key contribution to cleaning up one of our great rivers, bringing benefits to wildlife and people. But this should be seen as just one element of a strategy to reduce the vulnerability of London and the environment to sewer flooding during heavy rainfall. That’s why we are also calling on Thames Water and Local Authorities across London to make firm plans to invest in proven green infrastructure that can slow and store rainfall as it travels from roofs – to streets, to sewer and out to sea. Only then will London be ready to deal with the kind of chaos that climate change promises us.”

The Tideway Tunnel is one of the biggest engineering projects in Europe and will cost £4 billion. It is estimated that each Thames Water household will pay less than 20p per day for the tunnel and a much cleaner river and with Thames Water bills currently among the lowest in the country, the new higher rates will still be around the average for water companies in the UK. Construction of the tunnel will create over 9,000 new direct and indirect jobs. A clean and healthy tidal river will also support many thousands more employment opportunities in recreation, leisure and tourism industries in the future.

Carlo Laurenzi OBE, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust, said:

“A healthy Thames is essential for a healthy London. The River Thames is famous around the world and yet we still treat it as a sewer outlet, allowing serious pollution incidents to blight the river, destroy London’s wildlife and put river users at significant risk. The Thames Tunnel is the only viable solution to the long-term health of the River Thames and London Wildlife Trust welcomes this decision, but it is essential that the Tunnel’s legacy is one of ecological gain across the whole project.”

Peter Finch, Chair of The River Thames Society said:

“The Tideway Tunnel will see an end to the scandal of untreated sewage pouring into the Thames, removing a health hazard and restoring the river to a state of which we can all be proud.”

At the launch of Thames Tunnel Now in October 2011 a spokesperson for the coalition said:

“It is completely unacceptable for people to be faced with raw sewage in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, and for tens of thousands of fish to die from suffocation every time it rains heavily in the summer. Opponents of the scheme should ask themselves if they would like their child to go sailing or fishing among human faeces, sanitary towels and condoms, or if they would like a healthy river full of wildlife for millions of people to enjoy for generations to come.”

We now have pleasure in adding:

“This is great news for the environment and an historic moment for one of the most famous rivers in the world which will be given a long overdue new lease of life”.

Have Your Say! Abstraction Reform Digital Dialogues Now Open.

Abstraction is one of the major issues facing the management of our waterways – and YOU can make sure that the proposed Abstraction Reforms truly are sustainable. Here’s how:

Two online discussions will be running for three weeks from Friday 5th September up until 26th September 2014.

Does your river get much of its flow from water company discharges? Have you ever been affected by a drought? Then you should want to have your say in these discussions on:

  1. Managing water company discharges
  2. Abstraction reform and drought

The discussions go live Friday at 12pm but you can register now:

You will need to complete a simple registration process by going to the register link at the top of the dialogue home page: http://defra.dialogue-app.com/. When you register you will be required to provide a username and email address. The username will be made public along with the comments made in the Dialogue. Please consider this when choosing a username.

Catastrophe of salmon farm ‘sea-lice soup’ hits juvenile salmon and sea-trout across huge area of the west coast and western isles

S&TA(S) congratulates local council for principled planning decisions to safeguard wild salmon and sea-trout but castigates Minister for allowing wild salmon catastrophe to continue on his watch

At the worst possible time of year for wild fish, yet again industry figures show sea-lice have been out of control at many Scottish salmon farms. The latest aggregated sea lice data, published by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) (Note 1), shows that in the second quarter of 2014, sea lice numbers on farmed salmon were still out of control in almost half the thirty regions for which data is reported by the industry.

The second quarter of every year is when the main migrations to sea of juvenile wild salmon and sea-trout occur. During this period, wild salmon and sea-trout are at their most vulnerable to damaging and often fatal infestations of sea lice emanating from fish farms (Note 2).

Particular hotspots, for the sixth quarterly report in a row, include ‘Kennart to Gruinard’ in Wester Ross where there are seven farms operated by two companies, Wester Ross Fisheries Limited and Scottish Sea Farms Limited.

Collectively, the farms in this region breached industry sea-lice standards and will have been producing juvenile sea-lice in numbers that will in all probability have threatened the survival of any migrating young wild salmon and sea-trout leaving the rivers of Wester Ross for the first time this spring. This will almost certainly have included wild salmon from the Special Area for Conservation on the Little Gruinard River, where Atlantic salmon are supposedly strictly protected under European law

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

“Sea-lice have been over the threshold in this part of Wester Ross for 18 straight months now. Despite extended fallow periods applied in Wester Ross and twelve treatments for sea-lice in the three months of April to June 2014, the industry here still cannot get its sea-lice problem under control. Clearly the use of wrasse as ‘cleaner fish’ in this region is not the panacea that it is often said to be.”

Mr Linley-Adams continued:

“We now have 18 months of evidence which shows that either the fish-farmers in Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom can’t or won’t manage their farms properly to control sea-lice or that some characteristic of Wester Ross simply makes it an inappropriate place to farm salmon.

Either way, the fish-farms in Two Brooms must now go.

This is now a litmus test of the attitude of the Scottish Government to wild salmon and sea-trout on the west coast. Is it lawful for Ministers to do nothing to protect populations of west coast wild salmon and sea-trout in Two Brooms for the benefit of the fish-farmers?”

Other regions that continue to have sea-lice issues include Inchard to Kirkaig North, Loch Long and Croe, Skye and small isles (North), Awe and Nell (Argyll), Add and Ormsary (also Argyll), Mull, Lewis, North Uist, South Uist and Shetland East with sea lice levels up to ten times over the thresholds for treatment, threatening migrating wild salmon and sea-trout with lethal infestation.

Highland Council congratulated for decisions showing local concerns for wild salmon and sea-trout

In stark contrast to the Minister’s lack of action, the Highland Council appears now to be standing up for wild salmon and sea-trout on behalf of the local communities it represents and which care passionately about their wild fish.

Refusing planning permission this August for a massive 10-cage salmon farm in Loch Slapin on the Isle of Skye, the Highland Council concluded that “it is the sea-lice impacts on wild salmonids in particular, given the historical problems in this loch system, which is of main concern” describing the likely effect on wild fish populations as “unacceptable” (Note 3).

Also in August, the Highland Council defended a 10 year time-limit placed on an existing salmon farm in Loch Torridon and refused the fish-farmers’ application for permanent planning permission, stating that since the farm was first given permission “nothing substantive has changed to lessen sea-lice impacts on wild salmonids” and that “high sea lice levels present at a time when peak values would not be expected is of concern regarding their potential impact on wild salmonids” (Note 4).

Shamefully, Marine Scotland did not object to either application and appears to be ignoring the advice of its own fisheries scientists at Marine Scotland Science, who have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that “scientific evidence from Norway and Ireland indicates a detrimental effect of sea-lice on sea trout and salmon populations” (Note 5). There is, of course, no evidence that Scottish wild fish are somehow less susceptible than their Norwegian or Irish relatives or that Scottish sea-lice are less of a threat.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of the Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)), said:

“The S&TA is delighted to see local authorities taking on their responsibilities for the sea-lice issue at last. We applaud the Highland Council for grasping the issue.

Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom have a similar track record of appalling fish-farm sea-lice problems as Loch Slapin, so the question is will the Minister follow the Highland Council’s lead and direct the closure of the Two Brooms fish-farms?

If those farms applied to the Council for planning permission now, it seems highly likely that they would not be granted that permission. The fish-farmers have had ample time to show they can control sea-lice, but the parasites are still rampant on the Two Brooms farms.

It is simply not credible for the Minister to reply that he is still ‘keeping the situation under review’ or offer some such other platitude. He must now act and close the Two Brooms farms.”

Why are sea lice from 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 5).

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 6).

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 been relatively stable on the east and north coasts where there is no fish-farming (see Note 7).


1) http://scottishsalmon.co.uk/category/science-behind-fish-farming/fish-health/

2) Just what is the problem with sea lice? Adult wild salmon are perfectly adapted to coping with a few sea lice. Background levels of these parasites occur naturally in the sea. However the advent of salmon farming, particularly in fjordic sea lochs, has led to a fundamental change in the density and occurrence of sea lice in parts of the coastal waters of the west Highlands and Islands. Even one or two mature female sea lice per fish within a set of cages housing hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon amounts to a rampant breeding reservoir pumping literally billions of mobile juvenile sea lice out into the local marine environment. The consequences when wild salmon and sea trout smolts, the metamorphosing fragile skin of which is not adapted to cope with more than the odd louse, migrate from local rivers into this “sea lice soup” are devastating.

A burden in excess of 13 pre-adult sea lice is known to compromise severely the survival of juvenile migratory salmonids. Lice feed by grazing on the surface of the fish and eating the mucous and skin. Large numbers of lice soon cause the loss of fins, severe scarring, secondary infections and, in time, death. Quite literally, the fish are eaten alive. Badly infested salmon smolts disappear out to sea, never to be seen again. In contrast afflicted sea trout smolts remain within the locality and they, together with the impact of the deadly burdens they carry, are more easily monitored through sweep net operations.

3) Highland Council Handling Report and Refusal of Planning Permission 12th August 2014 for new marine fin-fish farm – Atlantic salmon – comprising 10 x 120m plastic circular cages, mooring grid and 220 tonne capacity concrete feed barge – http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/files/B2717BFFEA0FE2D95152122BCB094A19/pdf/14_01467_FUL-REPORT_OF_HANDLING-703525.pdf

4) 14/01868/S42 Section 42 application for non-compliance with condition 5 of permission 11/04228/FUL – ten year time limit – Marine fish farm – Atlantic salmon. Site NW of Sgeir Dughall Loch Torridon Diabaig Torridon. See http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/files/B2717BFFEA0FE2D95152122BCB094A19/pdf/14_01467_FUL-REPORT_OF_HANDLING-703525.pdf

5) Marine Scotland Science (2013) Summary of information relating to impacts of sea lice from fish farms on Scottish sea trout and salmon – 4th April 2013 – see www.standupforwildsalmon.org . Note that Marine Scotland Science acknowledges that compliance with the thresholds within the Code of Good Practice is not necessarily sufficient to ensure that juvenile sea lice emanating from the fish farms do not damage wild fish.

See also S&TA (2013) Recent research and findings on the impact of salmon aquaculture on wild salmonids – see www.standupforwildsalmon.org

6) M Krkosek, C W Revie, B Finstad and C D Todd (2013) Comment on Jackson et al. “Impact of Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts at eight locations in Ireland with an analysis of lice-induced marine mortality” – Journal of Fish Diseases.

7) http://www.rafts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/East-v-West-final-RWB.pdf