Damning Report on Salmon Farming in Scotland

Monday, 5th March 2018

Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) has today (5 March) published its Committee report on the environmental impacts of salmon farming – it is extraordinarily damning of the industry and hugely welcomed by us in the wild fish sector. 

Graeme Dey MSP, Convener of the Committee, has now passed the report to the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee, with a covering letter that highlights a number of very significant issues, of little surprise to us. Mr Dey notes a lack of progress in tackling many of the key issues previously identified [in 2002] and that unacceptable levels of mortality persist.
He goes on to describe that the industry growth targets (towards 300-400,000 tonnes by 2030, from around 170,000 tonnes now) “will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment”.
The report calls for changes to current farming practice and an industry that demonstrates it can effectively manage and mitigate its impacts; the status quo is not an option. Scottish Government’s regulation of salmon farming is also criticised: “The Committee is not convinced the sector is being regulated sufficiently, or regulated sufficiently effectively”.

The Report itemises some worrying attitudes from the salmon farmers, quoting the view of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation that the “impact [on wild salmonids] is insignificant”, very much against the available evidence. One company, Marine Harvest, is reported as acknowledging “some level of risk for wild fish” but goes on to “reference the risk to farmed salmon from wild fish”.

Download the full ECCLR Report here.