Calls for fish farms to be banned over claims they cause decline in wild fish stocks

Scottish government are considering banning the production of more fish farms in some areas amongst accusations that they harbour parasites responsible for wild fish declines  

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Fish farming in Scotland could be banned in some areas as anglers and landowners have claimed that they are partly to blame for declining wild fish numbers. The claim is that parasites from the farms are partly to blame for decreasing numbers of wild salmon and sea trout.

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The Scottish government are now considering following Norway’s example of limiting farm production as the fish farming industry argues that there is no evidence that parasites are threatening wild fish. Scottish Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, has said that, “Everything is open for discussion” and has also revealed he is considering forcing certain fish farms to release information on lice levels, a method implemented in Norway.

Steve Bracken from Marine Harvest, Scotland’s largest salmon producer, said there was not enough evidence to suggest that parasites were responsible for any declines. “We’re regularly reported on and we’re regularly inspected so we’re not hiding”.
There is a theory that lice may have become resistant to the chemicals used to treat them and that the fish farming industry could be hiding the scale of problems it is having getting rid of the parasites.

The Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producer’s Organisation, Scott Lansburgh has said they are not concealing information from the regulatory authorities “We’re regulated by the environmental protection agency, SEPA. So they keep a close eye on what’s going on in the industry as do the fish health inspectorate and their reports are open to all to see and we’re regularly reported on and we’re regularly inspected so we’re not hiding anything.”

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Environment Minister, Mr Stevenson commented, “At the moment there isn’t evidence of resistance to the various treatments there are, some other countries have that resistance if you continuously use the same treatment.”