Loch Duart Ltd is the only salmon producer in receipt of Scottish Government Enforcement Notices during 2021 over failure to control sea lice parasites
Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland says COP26 is diverging from its own published guidelines on the sourcing of food by contracting Loch Duart Ltd to supply farmed salmon for the event.
The UK Government has stressed that “sustainability” is “at the heart of catering” for COP26 and the caterers, Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus, have committed to “all produce sourced from high-welfare producers with sustainable agriculture processes”.
However, Loch Duart Ltd’s flagship farm at Clashnessie Bay in north-west Sutherland tops the league of the worst performers for the control of sea lice parasites during 2021. It is the only salmon farm to have received an Enforcement Notice from Scottish Government for failure to control sea lice satisfactorily during the first nine months of 2021. In fact, two such Enforcement Notices were issued by Scottish Government – in June and September (the latter for “cumulative enforcement”).
Between weeks 1 and week 40 (after which the site was finally harvested out) the average weekly declared count of adult female lice per farmed fish at Clashnessie was over 5.00 (10 x the industry’s Code of Good Practice level for Feb-June and 5 x the Code of Good Practice level for July-Jan). During eight weeks the declared count was over 6 (Scottish Government’s enforcement trigger level), peaking at 10.47 in week 33 (that of 16 August); the average declared count between weeks 31 and 40 was 8.67.
Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS), said:
“For COP26 to serve up farmed salmon, the product of what is, in many people’s opinion, a fundamentally unsustainable industry, shows bad judgement, but to source it from a company with such poor environmental credentials is inexcusable. Loch Duart Ltd has the dubious distinction of being the only salmon producer this year to have received two Enforcement Notices from Scottish Government for failing to control sea lice parasites – which, when they disperse from open-net salmon farms, have a devastatingly lethal impact on wild salmon and sea trout.
COP26 should not be endorsing a company that appears to be either incapable of maintaining or unwilling to maintain sea lice parasites within anything like acceptable levels – thus displaying scant regard for its environmental obligations.”
Loch Duart Ltd stopped calling itself “the sustainable salmon company” following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency in 2019.
Attached pdf is a detailed synopsis of the official sea lice records during 2021 for Clashnessie Bay.
The advent of salmon farming has led to a fundamental change in the density and occurrence of sea lice in much of the coastal waters of the west Highlands and Islands. Even one or two mature female sea lice per fish within a set of cages housing hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon constitutes a rampant breeding reservoir, pumping huge numbers of mobile juvenile sea lice out into the local marine environment. The consequences when wild salmon and sea trout smolts, the metamorphosing fragile skin of which is not adapted to cope with more than the odd louse, migrate from local rivers into this “sea lice soup” can be devastating. Carrying an unnaturally high burden of sea lice is known to compromise severely the survival of juvenile migratory salmonids. Lice feed by grazing on the surface of the fish and eating the mucous and skin. Large numbers of lice soon cause the loss of fins, severe scarring, secondary infections and, in time, death. Quite literally, the fish are eaten alive.