M&S salmon firm rapped for misreporting pesticide use

By Rob Edwards in The Ferret

The company that supplies Scottish farmed salmon to the retail giant, Marks and Spencer (M&S), has been officially reprimanded for misreporting toxic pesticide use at 25 fish farms over three years.

Documents seen by The Ferret reveal that Scottish Sea Farms was sent two final warning letters by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) in February 2020 for under-reporting, or failing to report, the use of chemicals to kill the lice that can plague caged salmon.

Sepa accused the company of supplying information that “was not true and accurate” in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  This was a “serious matter”, Sepa said, and any further breaches could result in prosecution.

The reprimand from Sepa led to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also sending Scottish Sea Farms a formal warning letter in October 2021. The charity was “extremely concerned” and said the company had breached its membership agreement with the RSPCA Assured fish welfare certification scheme.

According to Scottish Sea Farms, there had been a “basic administrative error” which it had owned up to and rectified. The company stressed there had been “no misuse of medicines, no negative environmental impact and no threat to fish welfare”.

M&S agreed there had not been environmental harm. But it criticised Scottish Sea Farms for having “fallen short of the best practice reporting principals expected of all M&S suppliers”.

Environmental and community groups described the revelations as “concerning” and “sickening”, pointing out that the pesticides ended up in the sea where they could harm wildlife. The regulatory regime governing the £1 billion salmon farming industry had been “fatally undermined,” said one campaigner.

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