Marine Scotland Science ignores own evidence in ‘unforgiveable’ response to Wester Ross salmon farm application

The Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TAS) has today, 27th June, expressed disbelief at the response made by Marine Scotland Science to a planning application by the fish-farmer, Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd to install 46 steel pen fish cages at its existing fish-farm at Ardmair in Loch Kanaird.

Marine Scotland Science is the body which provides scientific and technical advice on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Marine Scotland Science’s letter of 13th June 2013 to Highland Council deals with the risks to effective sea lice management as a result of the application and comes to the conclusion that ‘strategies for dealing with sea lice are satisfactory as far as can reasonably be foreseen.’  The Marine Scotland Science letter is here, under the ‘documents’ tab.

However, evidence compiled by the S&TA(S) from Marine Scotland Science’s own records covering the period 2009 to 2013 – and listed below in an Annex attached to the S&TAS’ press release – shows the Ardmair farm has been characterised by lice levels in excess of Code of Good Practice thresholds and serious concerns over the use and efficacy of available treatments.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), says: ‘The evidence the S&TA(S) has gathered from Marine Scotland Science itself, under freedom of information, suggests that the strategies used by Wester Ross Fisheries Limited over the last few years at Ardmair have not been satisfactory at all – far from it. And if anything can be ‘reasonably foreseen’ at the Ardmair farm, in our view it is certainly not that sea-lice control is likely to be effective.

‘Sea lice infestations now being seen on wild sea trout in the Two Brooms area are related to the fact that the numbers of adult sea lice per fish on the hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon in the vicinity earlier this year were, in effect, out of control.

‘A reservoir of adult breeding female lice on farmed fish in farms like Ardmair will have produced many millions of juvenile sea lice to populate the local marine environment. Inevitably juvenile wild salmon and sea trout, migrating from local rivers, will have been and are being infested with devastating consequences.’

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, says: ‘For Marine Scotland Science to come out with such bland ‘identikit’ assurances, given what their own information shows, is unforgiveable.

‘We are left to wonder whether they even looked at what they had in their own files before they responded. They need to look closer at the record of the Ardmair farm and rethink their response. Simply rubber-stamping fish farm applications without taking account of all the evidence in their own possession is unacceptable.’

Annex – Marine Scotland Science sea lice records from  2009-2013

Much of this evidence is gathered from Marine Scotland Science’s own Fish Health Inspectorate inspection reports for the Ardmair farm and has been obtained by the S&TA(S) pursuant to the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. It shows the extent of the failure of Wester Ross Fisheries Limited to adequately contain the sea lice issue at its existing farm on Loch Kanaird.

  1. The Fish Health Inspectorate inspected Wester Ross Fisheries’ Ardmair farm on 10th November 2009 and recorded that adult female sea lice counts were above the suggested threshold in the industry’s Code of Good Practice (CoGP) for at least four weeks.
  2. The Fish Health Inspectorate inspected Wester Ross Fisheries’ Ardmair farm on 15th June 2010 and again reported lice levels not below the suggested threshold in the CoGP during the period that records were inspected. Treatments with Alphamax were reported as seeing better results than with Salmosan. In general, the manager reported that treatments were not as effective as in past.
  3. The Fish Health Inspectorate inspected Wester Ross Fisheries’ Ardmair farm a year later, on 15th June 2011, and again recorded that sea lice levels were above CoGP thresholds (of 0.5 adult female lice per salmon), with the site manager reporting this time that Alphamax treatments were not as effective as in the past.
  4. The Fish Health Inspectorate made a further inspection on 2nd August 2011 recorded that before an Alphamax treatment administered on 28th July, adult female lice levels were at 8.4 per fish, reducing only to 6.7 the day after the treatment, but still over the CoGP thresholds.  During 2011, the farm had also treated with Slice in May and July, which does not appear to have controlled lice levels.
  5. The Fish Health Inspectorate inspected Wester Ross Fisheries’ Ardmair farm on 25th July 2012 and again showed that sea lice were not below suggested thresholds in the industry’s CoGP for the period for which records were inspected.
  6. For each of the years 2009 to 2012, complete information as to how long each lice situation persisted and how far in excess of CoGP thresholds the lice numbers were at each of these inspections, is not in the public domain, but it is held by Wester Ross Fisheries by law – this is a requirement of the Fish Farming Businesses (Record Keeping) (Scotland) Order 2008. The Scottish Government has declined to require the fish-farmers to publish this farm-specific information in full.
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12 Responses to Marine Scotland Science ignores own evidence in ‘unforgiveable’ response to Wester Ross salmon farm application

  1. It’s important to realise that Marine Scotland Science is not in fact “the body which provides scientific and technical advice on behalf of the Scottish Government” but simply part of the mechanism of that government with no independent existence, its members main stream civil servants working for politicians obsessed with the merciless expansion of industrial fish farming at the expense of traditional local enterprises, such as fishing and tourism and leisure related businesses. It would be a courageous civil servant who would offer advice to hinder that policy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

    • For clarification Mr Kennedy:
      a) is there any evidence of the ‘merciless expansion’ of fish farming in Scotland to which you refer? I imagine that a cursory glance at production tonnages between, say, 2002 and 2012 might be enlightening for you.
      b) is there any real, substantiated evidence to indicate that aquaculture has harmed fishing, tourism and leisure related businesses?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  2. Chuck in Gill disease ,frunk,tape worm have world wide produce…that Scotland should be proud of ..shame on the Franken farmers…and the MSP`s MP`S MEP` sitting back doing nothing akin to the NAZI`S just doing their job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  3. I was hoping that this country’s ‘official’ treatment of Donald Trump’s Balmedie project was a bit of one-off cronyism that politicians would live to regret, and learn from, but this Marine Scotland response does look as if it’s more evidence of what could be called ‘institutionally bent government’ in the same way that the London police force proved themselves to be ‘institutionally racist’.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  4. Maybe we need to create a citizen run ‘shadow’ SNH, ‘shadow’ Marine Scotland Science, etc, because the existing bodies are constituted in such away that they cannot protect Scotland’s environmental wealth. Time for a Hebridean spring?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  5. In response to Dr Gibson

    The industry has multiplied by five since 1990. The figures are available on the Scottish Government website here:

    The final figure for 2011 was 158,000 tonnes.

    These figures do not take account of fish mortalities during production, which have been rising steeply. In 2012, 8.5 million fish, 13,627 tonnes died of disease or accident. See:

    Current government policy is to expand fin fish production by 32% from 2011 to 2020. The industry is seeking 50% in the same period.

    All must be accommodated on the West “aquaculture coast”.

    Current guidelines allow “farms” up to 2,500 tonnes, 600,000 mature salmon at 4 kg. Very few (if any) of this size currently exist in mid Argyll, but Ardmaddy has just been consented at this size, Pol na Gille is close to it and the proposed new one at Shuna would also be 2,500 tonnes. The industry is already pressing SEPA for bigger tonnages.

    There is plenty of evidence of the damage this industry does to wild fish, see the above article for an example.

    The expansion now happening is on a scale that has never been seen before. Time will tell if visitors will continue to come once the bays and shores are littered with industrial rubbish, as many already are, large stretches of sheltered water are out of bounds and the seals and other wildlife are all either dead or have been driven off. I suspect that by then the only major sources of employment outside the industry itself will be in the public sector.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    • Very clever response Mr Kennedy.

      Firstly, of course there has been expansion since 1990, it’s a juvenile industry. I specifically asked about these ten years since I think you will find that there has been no significant expansion during that period, if at all. ‘Merciless expansion’ isn’t quite correct really is it?

      Secondly, you will understand the real difference between ‘evidence’ and speculation. The article, like a number before it, assumes that farmed salmon are responsible, through sea lice, for the decline in wild salmon numbers. An assumption without clear proof, and one purported by the tweed clad slaughter-mongers who seem to think that destroying 30% of the spawning populations each year is fine.

      Thirdly, in your original post you implied that support for aquaculture was at the expense of tourism and leisure related industries. However, in post 5 after my challenge you have changed this to ‘time will tell if visitors continue…..’.

      Not a lawyer by any chance are you?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • There is already evidence that tourists who have witnesses seals being shot have cut their holiday cottage lets in Gardenstown in horror and left. Seals are being shot from land against the express wishes of the landowner there. For more about the cruelty to the salmon and the seals which are shot to protect the salmon (and why I’ll never touch farmed fish ever ever again), I offer a brief article I’ve written –

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  6. Goodness me Mel Gibson (who would have thought Braveheart would be such a supporter of cheap supermarket salmon) is spot on when he points out that salmon farming is a juvenile business. Plenty of juvenile piggies making a little bit of money and to hell with the real cost in environmental damage, local fishery reduction, predator control, visual blight, feed sourcing from unsustainable sea fish populations, health damaging pollution from fish food producers factories in far away countries, etc etc.

    You are too ready to insult people to be taken seriously Mel. “Tweed clad slaughter mongers”, dearie dear sounds like a major chip on the shoulder when it comes to the land owning classes. And no correlation between fish farms, increased sea lice numbers and wild running salmonids in decline? Hmm, the tobacco companies similarly claimed there was no absolute proof that lung cancer was attributable to smoking. Not a cigarette smoker or a consumer of farmed salmon are you? As for calling Mr Kennedy a lawyer, well it seems you have no limits to your library of abuse. Mind you, at least you didn’t call him a salmon farmer.

    Oh yes a very juvenile business indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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