[Updated below with Salmon and Trout Association response) Following the press release issued this morning by the Salmon and Trout Association – FoI discosures lead Salmon and Trout Association to identify worrying seabed pollution at Scottish salmon farms – the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation [SSPO] has advanced some statistics of its own.
The Salmon and Trout Association [S&TA] had used Freedom of Information legislation to get from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency [SEPA] ‘311 reports of seabed self-monitoring by farms between 2009 and March 2012’.
Their analytic study of these reports, said S&TA, ‘established that levels of seabed pollution at almost two thirds of Scottish marine salmon farms are either ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘borderline’ – according to SEPA’s own categorisation’.
Of the 311 reports, S&TA found that ‘137 (44%) were deemed by SEPA to be ‘unsatisfactory’ (‘beyond the assimilative capacity of the local environment’), 64 (21%) were ‘borderline’ (‘close to having an unsustainable impact’) and only 106 (34%) were ‘satisfactory’.
Scott Landsburgh, Chief Executive, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), now says:
‘The selective three-year analysis from the pressure group S&TA is their usual biased propaganda contrasting starkly with the official 2011 data released yesterday by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the government agency with responsibility for protecting and improving Scotland’s unique and beautiful environment, which shows that 87 per cent of the 450 fish farms that were assessed last year alone are either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
‘Numerous time-consuming Freedom of Information (FoI) requests and then taking raw data out of context to suit lobbying purposes is an abuse of tax payers’ money – this must stop!!’
There are several issues here.
The S&TA statement is focused on the issue where , in footballing terms, the SSPO plays the man. We have not published further parts of the SSPO statement that were arguably subtly racist.
The SSPO, while mentioning that the favourable official figures from SEPA which they quote are for 2012, slide over the fact that this does not invalidate the three year period – of unpublished reports which had to be obtained from SEPA under FoI – studied by S&TA.
S&TA have not disaggregated each of the three years of reports they have obtained – which we would ask that they now do.
However, since SSPO have not been able to declare the S&TA three year figures wrong, if the 2012 figures they quote are also correct – and there is no reason to assume anything else – then the picture can only be:
- that SSPO member farms made very substantial improvement in the 2011 session – for which they are to be congratulated;
- the figures for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 sessions which S&TA have but have not disaggregated, must be worryingly bad if the average percentages they quote for the three year period to March 2012 are accurate – and SSPO have not denied that they are. This deduction – that the two year period in question must statistically show bad performance figures – is circumstantially supported by the fact that this information had to be extracted from SEPA under FoI.
The outstanding issue is that the Salmon and Trout Association has been consistently arguing for salmon farms in this country to move to a closed container system, showing evidence from Canada of the substantial reduction such a system has brought to the seabed pollution resulting from open cages.
Why does the SSPO not simply move to this closed container system, which will bve more expensive but if the Canadian farms cited can prosper while using it, a refusal to do so simply puts the highest achieveable profit levels above a due care for environmental protection.
It does have to be said that SEPA may have the title of environmental protector but its performance in its appointed role has not been without well substantiated failures to live up to its name.
These failures cover a range of issues, one of which at least also relates to an inappropriately favourable treatment of fish farms which it permits to shoot seals, regardless now of whether they are breeding or lactating, instead of requiring them to do as they are supposed to do and install and maintain adequate predator nets,
[6th September update] Response from Salmon and Trout Association
Solicitor, Guy Linley-Adams, is the author of the Salmon and Trout Association’s [S&TA] analytic study whose results are contested above by Scott Landsburgh of the Scottish Salmon Producers organisation.
He has done as we asked and disaggregated the figures for the three year period of self-monitoring seabed pollution studies S&TA obtained under FoI from SEPA.
We have added these to the original article on the S&TA report – FoI discosures lead Salmon and Trout Association to identify worrying seabed pollution at Scottish salmon farms – in order to keep all related information together.
Mr Linley-Adams has also unequivocally rebutted the position put forward above by the SSPO. He has also responded to what he has, rightly, assumed was the tenour of the material we chose not to publish, mentioned above.
We are including this part of the S&TA response here, since this is where it belongs.
Mr Linley-Adams says and the italicised emphases are ours):
‘Scott Landsburgh is not comparing like with like. He appears to be looking at the overall regulatory compliance assessment that SEPA does for fish-farms (which looks at all the various Controlled Activities Regulations conditions – including: ‘Did they keep the right records ?’ ‘Did they report self-monitoring on time ?’ ‘Did they breach their permitted biomass ?’ etc etc).
S&TA’s report has looked exclusively at the impact of organic pollution from the farms on the sea bed.
Finally, although I do not want to get involved in some petty little row and have very thick skin, if he is suggesting that my personal Englishness bars me from commenting, then perhaps you could remind Scott that I am a Scots-qualified solicitor working for a Scots-registered charity.
‘I hold a UK passport and am British-born (as I think is Scott) but, frankly, it would not make any difference if I was from the Moon.
My Englishness or not has nothing to do with this issue at all.
In fact, I have a fair proportion of Dutch and Jewish blood (and, yes, I do support Spurs….). Of course, there is undeniably history and ‘banter’ between Scots and English – that is a fact of life and can even be fun when it is meant with no ill will (for example, at the rugby) – but someone’s Englishness, or indeed any different ethnicity or origin, should never be a point of abuse, or be used in a way to try to deny someone’s legitimate involvement in debate of public interest.
‘If I were to suggest that Scott could not involve himself in any matters south of the border, just because he was a Scot, I would rightly be condemned.
‘As a lawyer, I will – indeed, many solicitors would argue that I am duty bound to by my professional codes of conduct – defend the right of anyone – including myself – quite irrespective of race, colour, creed,disability, sexuality etc. to take part in public debate in the UK. He should be careful to ensure he does not fall foul of the law.’