Scottish salmon farms under spotlight during Sustainable Seas inquiry

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The Environmental Audit Committee which scrutinises the UK Government’s performance on environmental protection and sustainable aquaculture – put questions towards industry leaders represented by Marine Harvest MD, Ben Hadfield.

The Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry in April on the future of the UK’s seas – examining how they can be protected from climate change, acidification, overfishing and pollution, and how the Government can create a sustainable blue economy.

On Tuesday, a panel led by Mary Creagh MP put questions to Dr Adam Hughes, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Ben Hadfield, Managing Director, Marine Harvest (representing the wider Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation) and Guy Linley-Adams, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland.

Hadfield when asked about the scope of the potential of the wider industry said there is clearly ambition for growth but we need more protein produced in the sea.

On environmental issues he said that “the industry had moved towards a more holistic approach to sea lice including the cleaner fish” and “we accept that we farm in shared space and particular the issue of sea lice presents some hazard for wild fish, particularly when its at high levels and its uncontrolled.”

On the use of emamectin benzoate or ‘Slice” Guy Linley-Adams, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland said as lice are themselves crustaceans – other species such as crabs or lobsters may be vulnerable and that the best solution to is move entirely away from chemical treatments and moving the fish away “so you don’t get the lice in the first place.”

In reply, Hadfield said that “I think that this is unfair and it doesn’t do Scotland and the UK justice when it has the highest control methods related to any medicines from a fish farm.”

Dr Adam Hughes, elaborated saying “it’s not saying that there is an issue but there is a possible environmental correlation there- what the next step is to do, is a detailed study – the data (on a previous report) collected for that study was not meat to to collected to look at the link between sea lice and crustacea – it was using data sets already collected out of routine monitoring – and if you want to get a more definitive definition we need to do better science to get that answer.”

The entire video is available here.