Inspection call to stop ‘surge of deaths’ at Scotland’s salmon farms

Reports of infection are worrying for producers and consumers of Scotland’s salmon farms. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Democrat reporter

STV News is reporting that campaigners are calling for an urgent investigation into Scottish salmon farms to prevent a “summer surge of deaths”.

They delivered a petition with 40,000-signatures to the Scottish Government calling for emergency inspections of all commercial salmon farming operations.

The petition, by consumer watchdog SumOfUs, cites evidence of serious welfare abuses at some of the farms.

Secret footage captured last month showing caged salmon near Loch Shieldaig, forced Marine Scotland to carry out an emergency inspection.

The footage was filmed by salmon welfare campaigner Don Staniford.

Anna Liberadzki, Campaigner at SumOfUs, said: “For years, we’ve known that Scottish salmon cultivation is as horrific as battery farming. Recent footage of the terrible conditions on salmon farms shows that the problem is only getting worse.

“As long as the mega corporations who own Scotland’s salmon farms can get away with it, they will allow the fish to suffer, while raking in huge profits for a so-called ‘sustainable’ product.

“Marine Scotland must step in. The alternative is a summer surge of salmon deaths and disease,”

Don Staniford, director of Scottish Salmon Watch, said: “Salmon farming is a welfare nightmare. We know from the Scottish government’s own surveillance that Scotland’s salmon farms are riddled with infectious diseases, pathogens and viruses. Unannounced inspections of salmon farms are urgently needed to prevent further mass mortalities and welfare abuse.”

A protester told STV News: “Scottish salmon is an icon to Scotland, but that’s not the truth anymore. This is a battery, factory, caged product. We’re bringing shame globally to Scotland.

“Campaigners are calling on the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland to conduct immediate inspections of salmon farms. We think that salmon farms are slipping through the net.

“The Scottish Government are not doing anything. They have only conducted one or two unannounced inspections in the last year. We don’t think that’s good enough. So if the Government won’t do it, I think public citizens need to step in and do some filming in and around salmon farms themselves.

“There’s a huge disease crisis in salmon farming in Scotland.”

In October 2018 Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, revealed there had been only two unannounced site inspections of fish farms “in the last year”.

The Fish Health Inspectorate has a statutory requirement to carry out “unannounced site inspections”.

A flotilla protest against welfare abuses on Scottish salmon farms, organised by Scottish Salmon Watch, will take place on September 1 at various locations on the west coast of Scotland.


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