Scottish Salmon Producers fight back

[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from SEPA which they quote are for 2012, slide over the fact that this does not invalidate the three year period – of unpublished reports which had to be obtained from SEPA under FoI – studied by S&TA.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.’

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Related Articles & Comments

  • No smoking gun then?

    1. Were the sites that came up clean ,new sites? as the sea bed below them would be clean?

    2.Were the inspections taken from sites that had been in operation for say 3 years or more?

    …having worked on these sites I know the filth that is below them and it is usually a scene of pure pink from dead salmon rotted through the nets and un eaten fish pellets lying on the sea bed …

    They are a law unto themselves …and are favored by the Scottish Governments (all of them) ..

    Here`s the shot seal numbers named and shamed
    Killing Farms

    Scotland’s Seal Killers Named & Shamed!
    – Ban on ‘Seal Unfriendly’ Farmed Salmon?

    http://www.gaaia.org/killing-farms

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Bullet in my salmon fillet September 6, 2012 9:37 am Reply
    • We have heard from the Salmon and Trout Association who will disaggregate their figures as we have asked and will demonstrate the sleight of hand in this SSPO statement.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      newsroom September 6, 2012 10:59 am Reply
    • For clarification, are you suggesting that seals are shot for pleasure or recreational use, or for pest control under licence?
      It would help the balance of the argument if you provided a website that listed the number of foxes shot by sheep farmers, mice caught in domestic traps, flies swatted by newspapers…. or hasn’t Walt Disney worked his magic on those species yet?
      For your information, I have never shot, nor in my line of business ever had the need to, shoot a seal.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Mel Gibson September 6, 2012 4:18 pm Reply
      • Greed of Feed: what’s feeding our cheap farmed salmon?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q2ZufwW1f7U

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        John Sinclair September 6, 2012 4:49 pm Reply
      • So what`s your beef?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Bullet in my salmon fillet September 6, 2012 11:14 pm Reply
      • Soooo what`s your beef??
        Problem meant for Mel Gibson even although i posted Reply to Mel…

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Bullet in my salmon fillet September 6, 2012 11:15 pm Reply
      • Mel don’t try and de-rail the point here were talking about shot seals ..shot from boats in the sea..

        Mel you know a lot about shooting so you boast..have you ever tried to shoot anything from a moving bobbing boat ?

        Have you ever tried to stick a bullet in the head of a seal that is smaller than a human head?

        Do you see the seal cleanly from 30 yard`s because of the waves?(you very rarely get closer)and its like trying shoot a 20pence piece from that distance..

        Do you think its a one shot kill? do ya ?do ya? do ya?

        Are the demised seals brought to shore (no)

        When the seal is eventually killed what happens?

        The stomach is slit allowing the gasses to escape and the seal sinks to the sea bed floor…and if a seal is shot and it swims off.. the next days are spent(by all) looking for it as they don’t want a seal washed up on the shore with part of its head blown off…(i mean what would the tourists think)

        And that’s profit for ya!!that`s the proud salmon farmer management pest control in action..for ya! sucks!!

        They could easily have a contained farming unit stopping seal kills,stopping pollution..but they wont do it unless forced because of the cut to the profit…shame on them all

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Bullet in my salmon fillet September 6, 2012 11:36 pm Reply
        • Please tell me you don’t have a firearms licence, as if you do you are a good advertisement for a complete ban.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          Mel Gibson September 7, 2012 4:41 am Reply
  • Looking forward to that..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Bullet in my salmon fillet September 6, 2012 12:40 pm Reply
  • Although Scott Landsburgh is now Chief Executive of the SSPO he originally owned and ran a supermarket in Dundee. I know him personally as we were both members of the same golf club in Dundee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Treble T September 6, 2012 7:48 pm Reply
  • Full SSPO response here(Alice Through The Looking Glass)

    http://www.scottishsalmon.co.uk/userFiles/737/SSPO_response_to__A&F_Bill_Consultation_-_final_2-3-12.pdf

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Bullet in my salmon fillet September 7, 2012 10:35 am Reply
  • Pingback: Argyll News: Seabed salmon farm pollution: S&TA provide figures to negate challenge from SSPO | For Argyll

  • Scottish fish farmers use record amounts of parasite pesticides

    Farmers have been forced to increase amount of chemicals as the sea lice parasite becomes resistant to treatment

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/10/scottish-fish-farmers-parasite-pesticide

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Bullet in my salmon fillet September 10, 2012 5:08 pm Reply
    • “Scottish fish farmers use record amounts of parasite pesticides”

      A record in what respect? The biggest user of cypermethrin (the main sealice treatment) in Argyll isn’t aquaculture

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Erik the Viking September 10, 2012 8:09 pm Reply
      • Tell us then, who is it?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham September 11, 2012 1:23 am Reply
    • Talking of records bimsf, you are like a stuck one.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Mel Gibson September 10, 2012 8:19 pm Reply
  • Well, it looks as if the SNP Government doesn’t quite see it in the same way: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/09/salmonproduction10092012

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Lowry September 10, 2012 5:58 pm Reply
    • “We support the industry’s ambitions for sustainable growth – as demonstrated by our intention to bring forward an Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill – and we are working with them to keep the focus on minimising the impact on the marine environment and adopting best practices. More than 60 per cent of Scottish farmed salmon now has the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods accreditation, which is a great endorsement and selling point.”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Scots Renewables September 10, 2012 6:41 pm Reply
      • Minor correction: over 95% of the Scottish salmon farming industry is Freedom Foods accredited, which accounts for 60% of salmon sold within the UK.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Mel Gibson September 10, 2012 8:17 pm Reply
  • Are there salmon fish farms on the east coast of Scotland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    John Sinclair September 10, 2012 9:43 pm Reply
    • “Are there salmon fish farms on the east coast of Scotland.”
      got a thumb down for asking a question, should we stop people asking questions?, should it be like in parliament when gofers ask questions set by their masters so it stifles open and honest debate.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      John Sinclair September 13, 2012 11:50 am Reply
      • You’ll find a lot of straightforward comment & questioning gets the ‘thumbs down’, and presumably it’s from people with a personal dislike of the writer and/or people who have yet to achieve adulthood.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham September 13, 2012 1:57 pm Reply
        • See what I mean?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          Robert Wakeham September 13, 2012 3:30 pm Reply
          • “personal dislike of the writer” see what happens on this post

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

            John Sinclair September 13, 2012 4:03 pm
  • SEPA, on the east coast, apply the law enthusiastically, according to agricultural farmer friends, and ask for draconian penalties for quite minor indescretions. Leaving aside the thought that they would say that, wouldn’t they?, the pollution especially when SEPA know it is happening would have an east coast farmer in jail. One hazard you eat and the other you drink; both will harm you if in the right quantities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    HansBlix September 11, 2012 1:55 pm Reply
  • It’s a shame that SEPA appears to be less enthusiastic to tackle problems on Easdale Island.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Lowry September 11, 2012 2:03 pm Reply

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