The Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)) is giving its full support to a fundamentally important amendment –
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/BusinessBulletin/60579.aspx – to the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill, requiring publication of sea-lice data on an individual salmon farm basis; currently such data is aggregated across regions making it impossible to determine which farms have problems controlling sea-lice.

There was a great deal of discussion during last week’s debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill concerning the appropriate resolution for the publication of sea-lice data.

The overwhelming consensus view – shared by NGOs, public bodies and academics – was that farm-by-farm publication of sea-lice data was necessary and appropriate.

MSPs posed the question: "What has the salmon farming industry got to hide?"

Only the industry and the Environment Minister himself oppose full publication of the data.

Publication of sea-lice data on an individual farm basis would show the performance of those farms in relation to sea-lice and enable such data to be used for wider research into interactions between wild fisheries and aquaculture. Farm by farm publication of this data is already available in both Norway and Ireland.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said: "The S&TA(S) regards this matter as a litmus test of how seriously the Scottish Government takes its responsibility towards the environment. All wild fish conservation bodies, SEPA (the main regulator of the aquaculture industry) and relevant local planning authorities want farm-specific sea-lice data to be published in full.

It is only the Scottish Government and the aquaculture industry which believes that the public should have no right to full disclosure and should accept the sanitised information being offered by the fish-farmers.

Until the industry is prepared to be open, there will always be the suspicion that there is something to hide. This deliberate act of concealment negates any chance of an improvement in relations between conservationists and fish farmers, and the Government must be aware of this."

For SEPA’s view on the publication of sea-lice data, see note (2) below.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, added: "If we were discussing a factory on land or a sewage works on a river – or even a salmon farm in Ireland or Norway – this type of data would be in the public domain by law, no question about it. Why should the Scottish salmon farmers be any different?

The Scottish Government’s current position is quite simply out-of-date and indefensible."