THE Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) has published a dossier based on hitherto unpublished Scottish Government Fish Health Inspectorate reports of inspections of Scottish salmon farms from 2009 and 2010, obtained under freedom of information law.

The reports of inspection visits to Scottish salmon farms made by Government inspectors over the last two years reveal:

A typical Scottish salmon farm

  • 68 instances of fish-farms recorded as having sea-lice levels above the thresholds recommended in the industry’s own Code of Good Practice during the period for which records were inspected.
  • 52 instances of fish-farms recorded as having other sea-lice related issues, such as damage or mortality caused by sea-lice, or high lice loads on sampled fish.
  • 48 instances of fish-farms reported as not recording farm sea-lice numbers in accordance with industry standards.
  • 21 instances concerning evidence of a lack of efficacy of, or tolerance to, or potential resistance to available sea-lice treatments, including unexpectedly low sea-lice clearance rates using licensed treatments and failure to control sea-lice numbers.
  • Concerns related to the proper containment of farmed fish, including the presence of misshapen cages, nets with holes or tears, either deliberately or otherwise made, and nets sagging at or below the water line.

The S&TA is working in conjunction with Fish Legal to protect wild salmon and sea trout from the impact of poorly-operated and regulated fish farming.

S&TA chief executive Paul Knight commented: ‘This dossier lays bare the reality of what is happening on Scotland’s marine fish-farms. The breaches of the industry’s own Code of Good Practice, in which Scottish Government places so much faith, are so widespread as to call into question the Code’s basic credibility.’

‘There are no unannounced inspections. They are all by prior arrangement – with up to ten days’ notice given. This gives ample time for the farm operators to carry out as much remedial action as possible.’