Disease fear may force salmon farmers to abandon estuaries

A A A

Scottish fish farmers could be paid to move their farms from mouths of rivers where wild salmon and sea trout run following criticism of their effect on the environment.

The booming industry has been blamed for causing a decline in wild fish stocks and for dumping vast quantities of sewage into coastal waters.

In response, Scotland's Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson yesterday outlined a blueprint to offer the £260m-a-year industry an environmental lifeline.

In the past 20 years, output from Scotland's salmon farms has risen from 4,000 tons to 127,000 tons of fish.

Friends of the Earth says the waste discharged from fish farms is equivalent to twice that from the country's human population.

The Executive's Strategic Framework for Aquaculture report published yesterday concluded that there was cause for concern.

"The siting of such farms in some cases may impact on wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout and thus indirectly also on freshwater mussels,'' it said.

"In several parts of the Highlands and Islands, wild stocks of salmon and sea trout are already severely depleted or even extinct.''

The influence of salmon farming was likely to be only one of several possible factors but it was important action was taken to minimise any effects of human activity on wild fish.

As farmed salmon production soared between 1983 and 1999, the wild salmon catch fell from 1,220 tons to less than 200 tons. There is growing evidence that the siting of farms near the mouths of salmon rivers passes disease and sea lice from caged fish to the Atlantic salmon.

Between 1998 and 2000, the number of escaped farmed salmon more than quadrupled from 95,000 to 440,000.

The Scottish Executive is to examine a number of "inappropriately located" farms and consider ways of having them repositioned, possibly with government financial assistance, by 2005.

The move was welcomed by Friends of the Earth Scotland, which wants a moratorium on the expansion of the industry.

"We have argued for many years that Scotland's fish farm industry was out of control,'' said Dr Dan Barlow, head of research for FoE.

The organisation has identified 18 areas which are adversely affected by fish farming. These include Scapa Flow in Orkney; Loch Roag and Loch Seaforth in Lewis and Loch Ewe, Loch Fyne and Loch Linnhe on the west coast.

"The failure of the executive to urgently bring in revised locational guidelines to get these fish farms moved from the mouths of salmon rivers and other sensitive areas means that sea lice will continue to decimate wild salmon and trout for at least another three years,'' said Robin Harper, a Green MSP, yesterday.

"Wild salmon are being driven to extinction in Scottish rivers and there is clear evidence pointing to fish farms. I have repeatedly called for assistance to be provided to fish farmers to enable the most poorly situated salmon farms to be moved immediately."

The Strategic Framework for Aquaculture was welcomed by Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS), the professional body representing the majority of fish farmers, as evidence that the Executive recognised the importance of the aquaculture industry to Scotland.

"Scottish aquaculture deserves this recognition so that it can build on its success to date and, with a proper strategic framework, deliver ever greater benefits to all interests through competitiveness, investments and sustainability," said Lord Lindsay, the chairman of SQS.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Professional Services Firm - Oxford

£21000 - £24000 per annum + 21 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Technical Support...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor