Argyll salmon run crisis in the River Awe

Argyll salmon run in crisis

Catastrophic failure of salmon run in Argylls largest and most closely monitored river confirmed. Annual count is by far the lowest on record. 

Plea for Scottish Government to intervene now to halt precipitous decline of wild salmon in main intensive aquaculture production areas

 This year’s Argyll salmon run in the most closely monitored and biggest river, the Awe, is by far the lowest since records began in 1964. The annual salmon count on the River Awe has now been confirmed as only 480. The figure compares to 807 in 2016 and a five-year average of 1400. The previous lowest total was 781 in 1998.

Argyll salmon run
Rive Awe Salmon Count

The Awe is a short river, draining Scotland’s longest loch (Loch Awe), with a hydro-electric dam at its head. There is a fish lift and a counter in the dam. The flow regime is such that fish can run the river any day of the year; almost all the fish are destined for the headwaters and thus there is a full river count which is almost unaffected by the weather. The Argyll salmon run count runs from April 1 to November 30.

Roger Brook, Chairman of the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, said:

“This year’s salmon count on the River Awe is incontrovertible evidence that the decline in wild fish in salmon farming’s southern heartland has become critical. We call upon the Scottish Government to take action on all issues within its regulatory control.

Specifically, we ask for a review of the policy to facilitate the continued expansion of the salmon aquaculture industry without first addressing the negative impacts. Expansion of aquaculture without greater regulatory control is sounding the death knell for viable wild salmon populations in most of the West Highlands and Islands.”

Mr Brook continued:

“We plead with the Scottish Government to take this issue seriously and act decisively to protect and improve our iconic west Highland salmon and the important west coast tourist industry associated with recreational fishing. Scotland has the opportunity to create a world-leading regulatory and planning system which protects wild migratory fish and proactively seeks to address any local negative impacts.”

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TC Scotland), said:

“If the crisis in wild salmon numbers in the West Highlands and Islands is to be halted, Scottish Ministers must now be given a duty, and granted the necessary powers, to intervene to protect wild fish and to implement measures to prevent further damage and provide the conditions to reverse the decline in wild salmon and sea trout populations.

This means ensuring proper control on the siting of farms and the levels of sea lice on the farms. We call upon Scottish Government and its agencies to insist that future farms are sited away from the probable migration routes. Most importantly, the worst-performing existing farms, both in terms of location and lice control, should now be closed.”

Mr Graham-Stewart added:

“When in August we highlighted the low Awe salmon count, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation claimed the announcement had been ‘premature and over simplistic’, as ‘the majority of grilse don’t return to the Awe until the autumn’. There has never been a significant autumn grilse run on the Awe and our forewarning has proven to be entirely accurate.”

Juvenile salmon migrating from rivers in the South-West Highlands, such as the River Awe, must pass close to lice-producing salmon farms (and rainbow trout farms), not only in the immediate area but also the whole way up the west coast, before they reach open ocean, free of aquaculture. Throughout this coastal migration they are vulnerable to infestation by deadly sea lice. It is logical that, the more sea lice-producing farms that outgoing juvenile salmon have to negotiate their way past on their migration to the North Atlantic feeding grounds, the less likely they are to survive.

In June, the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, in response to a formal Petition lodged in the Scottish Parliament in February 2016 by S&TC Scotland seeking protection for wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms, agreed to launch an Inquiry (scheduled for early 2018) into salmon farming in Scotland and the issues raised by S&TC Scotland.

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

FOI Number Five – getting you the information they don’t want you to see!

As the Scottish Government continues to try to downplay the harm being caused by open-cage salmon farming, S&TC Scotland has just secured its fifth favourable decision in a row this year from the Scottish Information Commissioner. Putting information about salmon farming and its impacts - information that the Scottish Government and its agencies would rather you didn’t see - into the public domain.

In November 2017, we secured a Decision from the Commissioner, who found that SEPA was not entitled to withhold a report that had been provided to SEPA, regarding a future study into the use of emamectin benzoate (Slice) for the treatment of sea lice, to be carried out for the Scottish aquaculture industry. This future study appears to be a very clear attempt to undermine the proposed  SEPA phasing-out of the use of Slice. SEPA tried to argue that the information was subject to the exception in regulation 10(5)(f) of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, that:

“...its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the person who provided the information...” namely the salmon farming industry.

However, the Commissioner agreed with legal arguments put forward by S&TC Scotland, that the information about this future study related to emissions to the wider marine environment, with the result that the exception that SEPA had tried to invoke, could not apply. The Commissioner has required SEPA to disclose the information. If SEPA wishes to  appeal, it has 42 days to do so. The Decision is expected to be published very shortly – keep an eye on it HERE

Earlier in November 2017, we secured another Decision from the Commissioner who decided that Scottish Ministers had unlawfully tried to withhold information concerning  a Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum-commissioned report on the environmental impact of the sea lice medicine, emamectin benzoate (Slice). Ministers had  tried to conceal the fact that the report was peer-reviewed by six scientists, five or whom were linked to or worked for the multinational corporation that produces emamectin, Merck. Learn More

In September 2017, we secured another Decision from the Commissioner,  that Scottish Ministers unlawfully tried to withhold information naming fish farms that had breached Scottish Government trigger levels for the numbers of adult female sea lice on the farmed salmon Read More Here. In 2016 and 2016, we had made a number of requests for information for details of those farms that had notified Marine Scotland that the new Scottish trigger levels, announced to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization in 2016, had been exceeded, but Scottish Ministers had declined to provide the information, on the basis that to do so would cause “substantial prejudice” to the interests of the fish farmers which had provided the information. Scottish Ministers argued that the salmon farmers feared that information on the performance of individual fish farm sites could be used to undermine commercial contracts through undue media pressure, or to call for local authorities and other regulators to revoke consent for sites reporting higher sea lice levels. Scottish Ministers supported the industry in those fears. After two separate and detailed referrals, the Scottish Information Commissioner ruled that arguments put forward by S&TC Scotland for full disclosure of the names of the most lice-affected fish farms in Scotland were correct and that the Scottish Ministers had unlawfully tried to prevent public scrutiny.

Two earlier 2017 Decisions had also shown that Scottish  Ministers were not complying with freedom of information law by failing to respond in time and within statutory deadlines to requests made by S&TC Scotland. See Decision 038/2017:  Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland and the Scottish Ministers  -Whether a request was complied with as soon as possible - See Here and Decision 063/2017:  Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland and Scottish Ministers - Control of sea lice on fish farms: failure to respond within statutory timescales - See Here.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC Scotland said:

“The right to environmental information is enshrined not just in Scottish law, but in European law and in an international convention, the Aarhus Convention, to which the UK is signatory.

Scottish Ministers and SEPA cannot keep ignoring the law, just because the information S&TC Scotland requests from them might be embarrassing or show that they lean too far towards protecting the fish-farmers from proper public scrutiny.

It must never be forgotten that the impact of fish-farms outside the cages - on wild fish, on benthic species and on the wider sea loch environment -  is of very real, substantial and legitimate public interest.”

Scotland’s worst sea lice offenders: Full Farm List

In our previous article we shared how our campaigning had lead to full disclosure of which Scottish salmon farms were not keeping their lice under control (read here). We highlighted the worst offenders, but today we bring you the full list of farms breaching the sea lice trigger levels set by the Scottish Government.*

To date, no meaningful enforcement action, such as the ordering of culls or immediate reductions in fish-farm biomass, has been taken against serial offenders.

Scottish Government’s new trigger levels of 3 adult female lice per farmed salmon (at which point a “site-specific escalation plan” to reduce lice numbers is required) and 8 adult female lice per farmed salmon (at which point, enforcement action may be ordered to harvest early, reduce biomass or cull-out a farm) are already very considerably more generous to the fish-farmers than the industry’s own longstanding Code of Good Practice (CoGP) sea lice treatment levels of 0.5 or 1 lice per fish, depending on the time of year.

The Scottish Government has a legal duty to protect and conserve wild salmon and sea trout, but this data shows it is failing to rein in the biggest threat to wild salmonids.

BE SALMON SAVVY! Use the list to check your supermarket isn't selling Scottish farmed salmon from these farms. If you spot supermarkets selling from these farms, please snap a photo of the packaging and send it in via email (lauren@salmon-trout.org) or social media (Facebook or Twitter @SalmonTroutCons).

*Note: The list covers the period extending from week 43 in 2016 (November) to week 35 in 2017 (end August) inclusive.

 

The power of bugs – Designing measures to properly capture the health of our rivers

Wednesday 8th November was a very exciting day, as entomology experts from around the UK came to our workshop to discuss the potential for biometric measures (environmental 'scores' calculated from water insect samples) to extend evaluation of our watery places beyond the broader, less specific brush of the Water Framework Directive.

Following on from our fantastic breakthrough on the Itchen (read more here), as part of our Riverfly Census campaign we are working to achieve localised, bespoke targets for more rivers across the UK.

The census, now in its final year, has already shown the tremendous value of analysing water insects to gauge a river's health - different species have different tolerances to pollution, so their presence or absence gives a very accurate environmental picture.

Dr Nick Everall of Aquascience, our lead consultant throughout the Riverfly Census project, and Shirley Medgett of Hampshire Environment Agency kicked off the day by presenting how we arrived at the bespoke targets for the Itchen. This set the scene for discussions on how to instigate a similar process for other rivers.

A room full of scientists - and no blood was spilt!
A room full of scientists - and no blood was spilt!

Currently the UK uses a tool called the 'Water Framework Directive' (WFD) to rank our rivers from High to Poor. This Directive is good for spotting dramatic degradation in our waters but is not so good at picking up the more subtle, but still significant stressors threatening our water life.

This lack of detail was motivation for us to go beyond WFD and use a combination of data from our census and, where possible, historical data to set bespoke targets.

We organised the workshop with the goal to use some of the UK's top experts in the field to help us decide which of the insect biometric measures, or which combinations of them, had potential to be made bespoke. In the afternoon session we also discussed overlap of measures across river types and what the potential thresholds of these measures could look like.

Much complicated ground was covered, but thanks to the expertise and enthusiasm of those who attended, S&TC is now armed with better knowledge to start the local conversations around the science that will ensure measuring health on our rivers is as effective and intuitive as possible. Proper measuring means proper management and, as a result, our rivers, fish and water life will have the bright future they deserve.

Massive thanks to everyone who made the day possible!

 

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

Scottish salmon farming’s ‘liciest’ farms named and shamed

Data reveals astonishingly high sea lice levels, Scottish Government regulation of salmon farms shown to be wholly inadequate.

Today, Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland names and shames the liciest fish-farms in Scotland.

Following the formal decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner (http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision142-2017.pdf ) that Scottish Ministers unlawfully tried to withhold information naming fish farms that had breached Scottish Government trigger levels for the numbers of adult female sea lice on farmed salmon, S&TC Scotland has now received the information in question.

It shows that sea lice numbers are running out of control in much of the industry for extended periods and failures by individual farms to operate with lice numbers below Scottish Government’s trigger levels are routine.

A new sea lice regime, announced by the Scottish Government with great fanfare at the June 2016 inter-governmental North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization meeting, has been operating since October 2016.

Scottish Government’s new trigger levels of 3 adult female lice per farmed salmon (at which point a “site-specific escalation plan” to reduce lice numbers is required) and 8 adult female lice per farmed salmon (at which point, enforcement action may be ordered to harvest early, reduce biomass or cull-out a farm) are already very considerably more generous to the fish-farmers than the industry’s own longstanding Code of Good Practice (CoGP) sea lice treatment levels of 0.5 or 1 lice per fish, depending on the time of year.

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

“Many of the individual farms’ sea lice numbers, which have long been hidden within regional aggregated ‘averages’ published by the industry, are far worse than we envisaged. Sea lice numbers on farmed fish across much of the industry are of epidemic proportions.

More worrying, the Scottish Government’s flagship new policy appears to be a sham, little more than a cynical ‘widening of the goalposts’ to the industry’s advantage, a policy with no teeth.”

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to S&TC Scotland, said:

"The data that Scottish Government didn’t want anyone to see shows that salmon farms have been permitted to operate with breathtakingly high lice numbers for weeks or months on end. To date, no meaningful enforcement action, such as the ordering of culls or immediate reductions in fish-farm biomass, has been taken against serial offenders.

The Scottish Government has a legal duty to protect and conserve wild salmon and sea trout, but this data shows it is failing to rein in the biggest threat to wild salmonids.”

Key findings from the published data include:

The list of those farms that breached the 3 and/or 8 trigger levels includes farms from all the large fish farming companies and most smaller ones.

Note: The figures cover the period extending from week 43 in 2016 (November) to week 35 in 2017(end August) inclusive. The first number following the name of a farm refers to the number of reported weeks with adult female lice counts between 3 and 8, and the second number refers to the number of reported weeks above 8).

The worst performing company in the Scottish Islands and overall worst performing company in Scotland was Grieg Seafood Shetland Ltd. Its farms’ figures were – North Papa (14 & 12), North Havra (14 & 6), Spoose Holm (17 & 8), Leinish (13 & 6), Score Holms (18 & 11), Gob na Hoe (17 & 6), Corlarach (12 & 5), West of Burwick (13 & 5), Langa Isle (East) (10 & 8).

Mr Graham-Stewart commented:

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

The worst performing company in the West Highlands was The Scottish Salmon Company. Its concentration of farms in Loch Fyne (Argyll) include figures of – Quarry Point (6 & 5), Ardcastle Bay (15 & 6), Strondoir Bay (3 & 3), Gob a Bharra (6 & 0) and Furnace Quarry (0 & 7).

Furnace Quarry farm was allowed by Scottish Government inspectors to continue to operate despite an astonishing sequence of seven weeks, with adult female lice numbers ranging from 15 to 23 per farmed fish.

Mr Graham-Stewart commented:

“The release of free-swimming stage lice into Loch Fyne from The Scottish Salmon Company’s farms in 2016 through to 2017 would have been astonishingly high. Given the company’s inability to control sea lice in Loch Fyne, and elsewhere, it should face serious penalty.

It is shameless that The Scottish Salmon Company’s managing director was only two weeks ago bemoaning the amount of ‘red tape’ he has to deal with (read here).

It is now also plain why the industry was so determined earlier this year to prevent a fact-finding visit to Loch Fyne by MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.”

The worst performing smaller operator was Loch Duart Ltd. Its mainland farms’ figures included Clashnessie Bay (10 & 6) and Loch Laxford (15 & 5).

Mr Graham-Stewart commented:

“Loch Duart’s prolonged failure to control sea lice, despite the company’s over-trumpeted use of cleaner fish, is evidence that cleaner fish such as wrasse or lumpfish are simply not the panacea the industry’s constant spinning suggests.”

 

 The requests for information

Late last year and this year, S&TC Scotland made a number of requests for information for details of those farms that had notified Marine Scotland that the new Scottish trigger levels had been exceeded, but Scottish Ministers had declined to provide the information, on the basis that to do so would cause “substantial prejudice” to the interests of the fish farmers which had provided the information.

After two separate and detailed referrals by S&TC Scotland, the Scottish Information Commissioner ruled that arguments put forward by S&TC Scotland, for full disclosure of the names of the liciest fish farms in Scotland, were correct, and that the Scottish Ministers had unlawfully tried to prevent public scrutiny.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC Scotland, said:

“It is now abundantly clear why Scottish Ministers tried so hard to prevent the publication of individual salmon farm figures and thus shield the Scottish salmon farming industry from proper public scrutiny.

It is to Scottish Ministers’ shame that it took a formal legal referral to the Scottish Information Commissioner from a conservation charity to make them recognise the obvious legitimate public interest in identifying poorly-run poorly-managed fish farms, so that consumers can avoid buying fish from those farms and those suppliers.

The true extent of the failure of salmon farms to control sea lice is astonishing. Claims that the situation is under control are risible and we will now write to the supermarkets asking them to stop selling salmon from the worst-performing farms.”

 

Latest industry aggregated figures show the sea lice problem is getting worse

Across the industry as a whole, the upward trend in failure of salmon farms to control sea lice and stay below the Code of Good Practice (CoGP) threshold of 1 or 0.5 adult female sea lice per farmed fish continues.

The graph below, drawn up using SSPO data, shows that regions covering 61.4% of total farmed salmon production in Scotland were over CoGP thresholds in June 2017, the last month for which aggregated sea lice data has been published.

Sea_lice_stats

Even for that 1/3 or so of the industry that does remain below CoGP thresholds for sea lice, Marine Scotland scientists recognise that:

“...adherence to the suggested criteria for treatment of sea lice stipulated in the industry CoGP may not necessarily prevent release of substantial numbers of lice from aquaculture installations”.

 

Parliamentary Inquiry due in early 2018

A formal Petition, at http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01598 , lodged in the Scottish Parliament in February 2016 by S&TC Scotland, seeking protection for wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms, has resulted in MSPs launching an Inquiry into the salmon farming industry in Scotland.

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of MSPs agreed at Holyrood in July (at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11034), to conduct a full-blown Inquiry into salmon farming in Scotland and the issues raised in S&TC Scotland’s Petition.

Guy Linley-Adams continued:

“Scottish Ministers need to rethink radically their approach to the salmon farming industry and to end their unconditional support for the industry in the face of this and other equally shocking environmental data now being revealed about its performance.

Ministers must also stop trying to protect salmon farmers from legitimate criticism.

We also call upon the industry itself to end both its tobacco-industry style denials about the damage it causes and the ‘tit for tat’ accusations it repeatedly makes, in favour of embracing the positive change that must now come."

 

Issued by Andrew Graham-Stewart (telephone 01863 766767 or 07812 981531) on behalf of Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland. For more information please contact guy@linley-adams.co.uk, 07837 881219 or 01432 379093.

Further information on the S&TC Scotland salmon farming campaign is available at https://www.salmon-trout.org/countries/scotland/

BBC’s ‘Fish Farms of the Future’ – Our Comments on Closed Containment

The recent BBC Costing the Earth programme – Fish Farms of the Future – centred around the issue of farming salmon in tanks on land, many miles away from the sea, and how this could be the answer to the environmental impacts of traditional open net farming prevalent off the West Coast and Islands of Scotland. The programme is 30 minutes long but well worth a listen!

S&TC has been calling for closed containment farming for years. Whether in land based units or in tanks in the sea, as shown in the header photo, these units create a biological barrier between farmed and wild fish, so that sea lice cannot transfer to wild salmon and sea trout smolts and eat them alive, diseases stay in the tanks and are easier for farmers to treat, and waste products can be harvested and processed for fertiliser rather than be dumped on the sea bed.

The cost of these units is coming down very quickly and soon it will make economic sense for farmers to switch to closed containment. When that happens, supermarkets will be able to market genuinely sustainable farmed salmon products, and we will be spared the sort of inane comments uttered in the BBC programme by the representative from M&S – suffice to say we are challenging the supermarket over their totally unacceptable attitude.

The future

The Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into salmon farming and its impact on wild fish, which is the result of S&TC’s recent petition on the subject, is scheduled for early next year and we will be presenting a great deal of evidence from around the Northern Hemisphere. The move towards closed containment in other countries will form an important part of that evidence trail.

So, what seemed a pipedream just a few years ago now appears to be coming down the track rather quickly. Closed containment is indeed a reality, and when it happens, wild salmon and sea trout may once again run Scotland’s West Coast and Island rivers and lochs in the profusion that historically lured anglers from all over the globe. That will support local communities and their economies with genuine jobs for local people – something the fish farmers boast about at the moment, but research suggests that salmon farming employees have a more widespread European component to them than the ghillies, boatmen and hotel staff who used to rely on visiting anglers for their pay packet.

Success from the S&TC auction – funding a better future for wild fish and where they live

We are delighted to report that our recent online, live and silent auctions, which culminated in a spectacular dinner at Fishmongers Hall in London, raised an unprecedented £120,000!

The three separate auctions offered many truly remarkable and rare opportunities to bid for exclusive fishing opportunities, stunning works of art, fishing and feasting packages as well as special shoot days.  Many renowned fishermen and celebrities such as Henry Blofeld also offered wonderful hosting opportunities for keen bidders.

Veronica Kruger, S&TC’s dinner and auction co-ordinator explains:

“I am absolutely thrilled with this total, and immensely grateful to all who participated, not least our generous donors, as well as the equally generous bidders who ensured we achieved the guide prices - very often, considerably above guide. Thank you, everyone, who made this our most successful auction ever.”

This further funding boost enables S&TC to escalate its detailed research programme and policy work to tackle the increasingly damaging effects of river pollution in Wales and England as well as continuing its active campaign in Scotland to resolve the devastating impact of salmon farming on wild salmon and sea trout.

Current salmon farming practices expose wild salmon and sea trout to unnaturally high volumes of sea lice
Current salmon farming practices expose wild salmon and sea trout to unnaturally high volumes of sea lice

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC says:

"We are all immensely proud of this fantastic achievement and hugely grateful to all those that provided such generous lots as well as those that willingly opened their pockets to support our major fund-raising effort.  We do not receive any Government funding and so every penny raised through the auctions puts us in a stronger position to increase our research capability, challenge policy, implement change and ensure that our rivers are fit for purpose and our wild fish stocks thrive for the next generation."

To everyone who got involved, a massive thank you from all of us at S&TC! Your generosity means we can continue to secure a better future for wild fish and where they live.

A big, bright new vision for our watery places and the life within them

Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC), the national voice for the UK’s wild fish and where they live, has been protecting our watery places for over 100 years. Over this time the issues faced by these environments may have changed, but standing up to keep our waters wild has never been more important.

A healthy water environment is essential for all species to thrive – from the tiniest bug that forms a vital link in the food chain to headline species such as wild salmon and trout, kingfishers and water voles.

To help make their campaigns, achievements and key findings more accessible to all those with an interest in the future health of our water environments, S&TC has re-launched their forward-thinking vision through a new website. The website focuses on the three main campaigns that make up the heart of S&TC:

  • Salmon Farm Reform: Shifting to a sustainable salmon farming industry to keep the natural environment safe
  • Living Rivers– Reviving our watery places and giving water life a healthy place to flourish
  • Riverfly Census– A benchmark for river life to understand what’s really happening under the surface

S&TC’s three campaigns address some of the key problems facing our wild fish and where they live. The new site clearly outlines the work they are doing through their campaigns to find solutions and secure a better future for our watery places. For example, through their salmon farm reform campaign in Scotland, S&TC has been instrumental in bringing the Scottish Government to account on salmon farming and the impact this is having on wild salmon and sea trout.

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC is delighted with the clarity of the new website and explains:

“People need quick answers these days and our new site, developed by BoldLight, is a huge improvement.  It is easy to navigate and it clearly sets the scene on our three campaign themes, including our positive vision for the future and how seemingly intractable problems can be resolved.”

Paul Knight continues:

“For too long, the unseen water world has received little priority when decisions are taken on development, over-abstraction and land use, or because supposed more important needs or individual interests take precedent.  If this continues, we could lose the very things we hold most dear inside a generation, including - healthy rivers, abundant wild fish stocks and other water life that depend on clean water to survive.  But we are determined this will not happen.  Our passion is to hand over to the next generation an aquatic environment to be proud of and one that gives our fish, birds and mammals a safe and flourishing place to live, now and in the future.”

In addition to the new website, S&TC has adopted a new look, including a logo refresh that more accurately reflect the ethos of the charity and the many species that are so closely interconnected in our water environments. This very eye-catching logo was kindly designed by Steve Edge Design.

For information on this press release or images, please contact: Morag Walker, mobile: 07736 124097 or email: morag@salmon-trout.org

Scottish Ministers ordered to disclose names of Scotland’s ‘liciest’ salmon farms to Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland

The Scottish Information Commissioner has this week published a formal Decision that Scottish Ministers unlawfully tried to withhold information naming fish farms that had breached Scottish Government trigger levels for the numbers of adult female sea lice on farmed salmon.

http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision142-2017.pdf

Late last year and this year, Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TC Scotland) made a number of requests for information for details of those farms that had notified Marine Scotland that the new Scottish trigger levels, announced to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization in 2016, had been exceeded, but Scottish Ministers had declined to provide the information, on the basis that to do so would cause “substantial prejudice” to the interests of the fish farmers which had provided the information.

Scottish Ministers argued that the salmon farmers feared that information on the performance of individual fish farm sites could be used to undermine commercial contracts through undue media pressure, or to call for local authorities and other regulators to revoke consent for sites reporting higher sea lice levels. Scottish Ministers supported the industry in those fears.

After two separate and detailed referrals by us, the Scottish Information Commissioner has now ruled that arguments put forward by S&TC Scotland, for full disclosure of the names of the ‘liciest’ fish farms in Scotland, were correct, and that the Scottish Ministers had unlawfully tried to prevent public scrutiny.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC Scotland said:

“We are delighted that the Commissioner has made it so plain to Scottish Ministers that they cannot lawfully continue to shield the Scottish salmon farming industry from proper public scrutiny.

For years, we have been arguing that farm specific sea lice information should be made publicly available and, indeed, have been supported in that by local authorities on the west coast and in the Western Isles, and by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

It is to Scottish Ministers’ shame that it took a formal legal referral to the Scottish Information Commissioner from a conservation charity to make them recognise the obvious legitimate public interest in identifying poorly-run poorly-managed fish farms, so that consumers can avoid buying fish from those farms and those suppliers.

As soon as we have the information, S&TCS will publish the list of Scotland’s liciest salmon farms and will be asking supermarkets to stop selling salmon from those farms”.

Latest industry aggregated figures show the sea lice problem is getting worse

Across the industry as a whole, the upward trend in failure of salmon farms to control sea lice and stay below the Code of Good Practice (CoGP) threshold of 1 or 0.5 adult female sea lice per farmed fish continues. The graph below, drawn up using SSPO data, shows that regions covering 61.4% of total farmed salmon production in Scotland were over CoGP thresholds in June 2017, the last month for which aggregated sea lice data has been published.

Sea_lice_stats

Even for that 1/3 or so of the industry that does remain below CoGP thresholds for sea lice, Marine Scotland scientists recognise “that adherence to the suggested criteria for treatment of sea lice stipulated in the industry CoGP may not necessarily prevent release of substantial numbers of lice from aquaculture installations”.

Parliamentary Inquiry due in early 2018

A formal Petition, at http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01598 , lodged in the Scottish Parliament in February 2016 by S&TC Scotland, seeking protection for wild salmonids from sea lice from Scottish salmon farms, has resulted in MSPs launching an Inquiry into the salmon farming industry in Scotland.

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of MSPs agreed at Holyrood in July (at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11034), to conduct a full-blown Inquiry into salmon farming in Scotland and the issues raised in S&TC Scotland’s Petition.

Guy Linley-Adams continued:

“S&TC Scotland looks forward to the Parliamentary inquiry at which we intend to argue strongly for a change in Scottish law to protect wild fish and the wider Scottish marine environment from the worst effects of salmon farming

We now call upon Scottish Ministers to rethink radically their approach to the salmon farming industry, to end the knee-jerk support of the industry in the face of frankly awful environmental performance, and to stop trying to protect it from legitimate criticism.

We have shared our ideas for change with Marine Scotland and hope Scottish Ministers will now work with environmental and conservation bodies to map out a sustainable future for the industry that no longer damages the precious Scottish marine environment and the species within it.

We also call upon the industry itself to end both its tobacco-industry style denials about the damage it causes and the ‘tit for tat’ accusations it repeatedly makes, in favour of embracing the positive change that must now come”.

 

Issued by Andrew Graham-Stewart (telephone 01863 766767 or 07812 981531) on behalf of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland. For more information please contact guy@linley-adams.co.uk, 07837 881219 or 01432 379093.

Further information on the S&TC Scotland salmon farm reform campaign is available on www.salmon-trout.org

S&TC auction offers lots from fishing to feasting that money can’t buy

Keen cricketing fans will be rushing to bid in Salmon & Trout Conservation's annual auction for a rare chance to fish and then enjoy lunch on the glorious River Itchen in the esteemed company of the one and only voice of cricket; Henry Calthorpe Blofeld or ‘Blowers' as he is often affectionately called.

This unique opportunity to eat, meet and fish with a celebrity hero or two like Henry Blofeld is up for grabs in our renowned charity auction.

The S&TC annual on-line, silent and ‘live' auctions are gearing up to offer some truly remarkable and rare opportunities to bid for exclusive fishing opportunities, stunning works of art, fishing and feasting packages as well as special shoot days.

The online auction opens on 18th September and will run for six-weeks, while the silent and live auctions will be held during our prestigious Dinner, held in the classic splendour of Fishmongers' Hall in London on Thursday 12th October. The redesigned auction site will include the facility for bidders not attending the Dinner to leave commission bids on those items only on offer at the Dinner.

Veronica Kruger, the S&TC Dinner and Auction organiser says:

"At last year's auction and dinner we raised an impressive £100,000. With the support of our generous donors and bidders we feel very confident that we will raise even more this year. There is something for everyone and to suit every pocket in both the online and live auctions. From a VIP day at Newbury Races to a classic two nights fishing break at the famous Arundell Arms in Devon. Generous donations mean that we can offer sculpture, art, dining, fine wines, and a wide variety of fishing – sea trout, salmon, grayling and bass, from the chalkstreams and coastline of southern England all the way to the Outer Hebrides. Guide prices start at just £50."

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC says:

"We rely heavily on this major annual fund-raising event to support our important scientific research as we do not receive any funding from Government. Our on-going national Riverfly Census has clearly identified the shocking state of some of our freestone rivers and chalkstreams. But there is much more that needs to be done in terms of research and providing the evidence and data needed to protect our rivers and aquatic wildlife, as well as identifying workable solutions. We hope that as many people as possible who love to fish or just enjoy these unique river environments will support us and join in the competition to bid for some exceptional experiences."

The S&TC Annual Online auction opens on Monday 18th September (when registration opens at www.salmon-trout.org).

For more information or to donate auction lots, please contact: Veronica Kruger on email: auction@salmon-trout.org.