It is not often Dreamstore will cut and paste a press release.
The communication (below) from Salmon & Trout Conservation needs little added.
It is incredible that more Salmon Farms are being licensed while it is clear there is a fundamental issue with disease control. Not only has sea lice sea lice increased x2 or x3 over the past year, treatment cannot take place in many instances because attention to other disease has left salmon too weak to stand sea lice treatment!
Compare with the Danish Government which has said there is no room for more fish farms in Danish waters than the 19 that are from before, and the future fish farming is on land, with the Environment Minister stating: “We have major challenges with oxygen deficiencies, and we can see that nitrogen emissions are not falling as expected. Therefore, it is the government’s position that there is no room for more or larger facilities in Denmark,” because coastal areas are overloaded with nitrogen.
NEWS RELEASE: 06:00hrs BST, 21 August 2019 (For immediate publication)
Total sea lice numbers on salmon farms double in a single year.
Industry and official SEPA data underline how the rush to expand salmon farm production is massively increasing the risks to wild salmon and sea trout.
“A moratorium on salmon farm expansion is now more essential than ever” states Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS).
Data recently published by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) shows that the average adult female sea lice count per fish on salmon farms increased from 0.25 in April 2018 to 0.49 in April 2019 – an increase of 96%.
Over the same period the total amount of salmon in Scotland’s farms rose by almost 25%, from 97,000 tonnes to 122,000 tonnes, according to data published by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The 122,000 tonnes figure is the highest on record.
By combining the above data sets and with the fair assumption that the average size of the fish across all farms is unchanged year-on-year, it is evident that total adult female sea lice numbers in April were more than double the total for a year earlier.
Multiplying (total biomass in 2019 / total biomass in 2018) by (average lice per farmed fish in 2019 /average lice per farmed fish in 2018) shows that, in April 2019, the production of juvenile sea lice by fish farms is likely to have been between two and three times higher than that in April 2018.
Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS), said:
“The absolute number of adult female sea lice on farms is of far greater relevance as regards the impact on wild salmon and sea trout than the average number of lice per farmed fish.
It is these adult female lice on the farms that produce the lice larvae that then infest wild fish in the sea lochs.
There can be no doubt that there has been a dramatic year-on-year increase in total adult female sea lice numbers on Scotland’s salmon farms. The available data indicates there was a huge escalation in the production of sea lice larvae, at the most critical time in the spring when juvenile salmon migrate from their rivers to sea and are most vulnerable to fatal sea lice infestations.”
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to S&TCS, added:
“The massive increase in sea lice numbers is a major concern. The situation is now far worse than it was during last year’s Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry. In the circumstances, a moratorium on salmon farm expansion is now more essential than ever, if further damage to wild fish survival is to be avoided. Scottish Ministers need to act now and stop kicking the necessary decisions into the long grass”.
Permissions for new salmon farms or salmon farm expansions are continuing on a regular basis. For example, in Argyll and Bute alone there have been ten planning decisions in favour of salmon farming expansion since the publication of the ECCLR Committee report in March 2018. Another three applications are awaiting decisions.
Following a warmer than average winter, salmon farming industry sources are predicting severe problems with sea lice on fish farms in Scotland this autumn. They report that sea lice levels have been highly challenging this summer with no end in sight.
They also report that some companies are choosing not to treat their fish for sea lice because of high levels of other disease and gill health problems, which weaken farmed salmon and reduce their ability to survive the chemical and physical treatments for sea lice. This will almost certainly inflict even more damage on wild salmon and sea trout.