Seabed pollution at almost two thirds of Scottish salmon farms is either â€˜unsatisfactoryâ€™ or â€˜borderlineâ€™, analysis of FOI information reveals
The Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) has today published a comprehensive analysis of reports obtained from SEPA under FOI, establishing that levels of seabed pollution at almost two thirds of Scottish marine salmon farms are either â€˜unsatisfactoryâ€™ or â€˜borderlineâ€™, according to SEPAâ€™s own categorisation.
The study reviewed 311 reports of seabed self-monitoring by farms between 2009 and March 2012. Of these 137 (44%) were deemed by SEPA to be â€œunsatisfactoryâ€ (â€œbeyond the assimilative capacity of the local environmentâ€), 64 (21%) were â€œborderlineâ€ (â€œclose to having an unsustainable impactâ€) and only 106 (34%) were â€œsatisfactoryâ€.
Hughie Campbell-Adamson, Chairman of S&TA Scotland, said:
â€œThis report is another damning indictment of the salmon farming industry. It is symptomatic of a systemic failure to control seabedpollution and throws into doubt whether the current expansion plans of the Scottish salmon farming industry in open-cage systems can ever be environmentally sustainableâ€.
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign and author of the analysis, said:
â€œThese findings are yet further evidence that open-cage salmon farming as practised in Scotland is inherently unsustainable. They support the S&TAâ€™s conviction that the way forward over the medium-term is to move to closed containment units, from which all waste can be collected and treated or re-used in the same way as any terrestrial intensive food animalproduction factory unit would be required to do.
They also reinforce for the need for the forthcoming Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill to deliver a robust approach to regulating the industry as suggested by S&TA and many other bodies in their various consultation responses. Under the current regulatory regime, it appears that the salmon farming industry is able to breach pollution guidelines with relative impunity. This cannot be allowed to continueâ€.
Paul Knight, CEO at the S&TA, added:
â€œThis report makes a mockery of the industryâ€™s claims on packaging, websites and elsewhere that it always operates in harmony with the wider environmentâ€.
The two companies with the highest percentage of â€œunsatisfactoryâ€ reports are Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd (70 % â€œunsatisfactoryâ€, 30% â€œborderlineâ€ and 0% â€œsatisfactoryâ€) and Loch Duart Ltd (68% â€œunsatisfactoryâ€, 26% â€œborderlineâ€ and 6% â€œsatisfactoryâ€), both based in the north-west Highlands.
Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd was the winner of the Crown Estateâ€™s Stewardship Award at the Scottish Marine Aquaculture Awards in 2011. Its website declares that â€œall of our operationsâ€¦..minimise our impact on the environment ensuring that we are producing the finest quality Scottish salmon in harmony with our environmentâ€.
Loch Duart Ltd markets itself as â€œthe Sustainable Salmon Companyâ€ and its website states: â€œâ€˜Best practiceâ€™ is the principle applied to Loch Duart salmon at every stage of rearing, harvesting and supply â€“ a sustainable and environmentally-responsible approachâ€. The companyâ€™s websiteâ€™s â€œWhere to eat our salmonâ€ section includes Gordon Ramsay at Claridgeâ€™s and Rick Steinâ€™s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.