Salmon farming industry’s selective release of individual farm sea lice data falls far short of what is required
Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TC Scotland) is dismayed that this week’s publication by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) of sea lice data for January, on an individual farm basis (see http://scottishsalmon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Lice-averages-Jan-2018.pdf), falls far short of what the Environment Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s Report in March, on the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming, demanded.
The ECCLR Committee’s Report* stated clearly what was required from the industry (at para 58):
“The Committee believes the efforts of the industry have proven to be largely insufficient to address lice issues. The Committee welcomes the announcement by the SSPO that sea lice data will be published on a farm by farm basis. For that data to be most useful the Committee considers there should be no unreasonable delay in its publication.
The industry should be required to publish it in real time. Data should be published in a consistent and comparable basis and should include numbers of fish and action taken in response.
This information would advance the science and solutions available to the industry.
The industry should also be required to publish consistent and comparable weekly historic data sets on sea lice figures on a farm by farm basis from the time records are available.
There should be no delay in the industry publishing this information so this should initially be published on a voluntary basis by the end of April 2018.”
Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TC Scotland, said:
“The industry is clearly ignoring most of what the ECCLR Committee called for – with no good reason.
Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has unilaterally decided that it will publish data three months in arrears. Such a time lag for the release of individual farm sea lice data is unacceptable and unwarranted. There is no logical reason why the delay should be any more than a week or two.”
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC Scotland, said:
“The publication of individual farm sea lice figures for January, which S&TC Scotland welcomes, is only a bare minimum first step.
As to what the data says, it indicates that there are still major problems with sea lice control. Indeed 31 per cent of farms (a total of 39 out of 126 that were stocked for the whole of January) were above the Code of Good Practice threshold – in some cases seven times over.”
Major problems with sea lice control
The ECCLR Committee’s Report (at para 57) considered that “there should be a mandatory requirement to keep sea lice levels within those identified in the Code of Good Practice”, so the data shows that the industry still has a very long way to go.
It also seems that this latest data may be misleading and in effect be an understatement of the lice problem. According to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), eight farms fallowed during January, following the completion of harvesting. However, it is not clear when in January these farms fallowed. Some may well have completed harvesting in late January, having been considerably over the CoGP lice level for most of the month. However, because they eventually “fallowed in January”, their lice numbers are excluded from the published SSPO data.
Mr Linley-Adams added:
“It is also unfortunate that the marine fish farms of Dawnfresh and Kames are missing completely from the SSPO’s data. Overall, the SSPO’s data shows exactly why we need a statutory system requiring, by regulation, the publication of what the ECCLR Committee recommended.
We can no longer ‘get by’ with just what the SSPO wants us to see.”
*On March 5 2018, the ECCLR Committee wrote to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, attaching its inquiry into the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming. See http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Environment/Inquiries/20180305_GD_to_Rec_salmon_farming.pdf