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Parliamentary Inquiry begins with spin from the salmon farmers

Fish farmers are ramping up their claims to Scotland's economy as Parliamentary Inquiry relating to salmon farming and its affect on wild stocks begins

I watched the BBC Scotland News a few nights ago with a jaundiced eye. Steve Bracken, Marine Harvest’s Business Support Manager was telling Scotland how brilliantly farmed salmon was performing. Over the past nine months, the salmon farming industry has been pumping out figures about its booming exports.

The fish-farm spin-doctors need to earn their portion of this bloated business, and it surely can’t be co-incidence that the apparent value of salmon farming to Scotland’s economy is being forced down the populace’s and politicians’ throats just before it’s about to be scrutinised on key points of its pollution and sustainability. Tomorrow, the Scottish government will begin its Parliamentary Inquiry into salmon farming and its impact on wild fish, following S&TC's recent petition on the subject. It will be presented with a vast amount of evidence from around the Northern Hemisphere, and no doubt one item will be the latest, recently published report from Norway that salmon-farm sea lice can kill up to 29% of wild salmon (see March issue of FF&FT).

To put the opposite spin on the salmon farmers’ claims, the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture calculates from SEPA figures that Marine Harvest alone lost 2.3 million salmon (4,300 tonnes) in the first nine months of in 2017; “disease”: – mainly sea lice – being one of the main contributors to the death-toll.

This Inquiry will put the Scottish government directly in the sights of its public and the angling community, a decision which will cement the government’s attitude to the environment, and galvanise its vision of Scotland’s future. It represents a watershed moment for Nicola Sturgeon - does she opt for the salmon-farmers’ big bucks and consign the west coast to a parasitised, sterile desert, or is she shrewder than that, and accept that open-net salmon farming has reached its maximum carrying capacity and attempt to make both the farms work and grow without polluting our seas (by bringing them on land and operating in closed containment systems), at the same time helping to re-generate a once-thriving and world-class recreational salmon and sea trout fishery, which will doubtless also attract customers (tourists) from all countries?

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