Disease, lice infestations and mass mortality events continued to cause suffering on Scotland’s salmon farms in the first quarter of 2018, new data has revealed.
The data shows that up to three million fish died (assuming all salmon that died weigh 1kg) in mortality events between January and March 2018. This is an 8.5% increase on mortality during the same period last year.
Lice infestations, a major welfare concern, were also widely reported. Almost a third of all stocked salmon farms breached trigger levels for sea lice in January and February. Salmon on the worst site, Trilleachan Mor, owned by the Scottish Salmon Company, had an average of 7 female lice on each fish in January
Sea lice are a threat to the welfare of salmon as they feed on the flesh, tissue and scales of fish, leaving tissue exposed. This causes disruption to osmoregulation, leaves fish susceptible to further infection, and can lead to increased stress and mortality.
The data also shows that large escapes of farmed salmon continue, threatening wild populations. Six escapes were reported between January and May 2018, leading to just under 23,000 salmon escaping from salmon farms.
OneKind Director, Harry Huyton said:
“Scotland is the largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU, and we should be leading the way when it comes to fish welfare. Yet today we have even more evidence that our fish farms are rife with suffering and disease, and that this appalling situation shows no sign of abating. Not only is this unacceptable, but it’s hugely damaging to the industry’s reputation.
“We’re calling for a full and independent review of welfare on fish farms, and in the interim a moratorium on the Scottish Government’s plans to expand the salmon farm industry. This is in the interest of the hundreds of millions of fish that live out their lives in Scotland’s salmon farms, but it’s also critical that the industry gets this right as they urgently need to win back public confidence.”
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is Scotland’s leading animal campaigns charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals. OneKind works to expose cruelty and persecution through investigations and research covering Scotland’s wildlife, farm animals and pets. Find out more about our work at onekind.scot
- The data published by Scotland’s Aquaculture is available here and here. Scotland’s Aquaculture is a collaboration between Government Agencies.
- Further details can be found in this OneKind’s blog here.
- The Code of Good Practice trigger levels for sea lice treatment differ depending on the time of year and are an average female lice burden of: 0.5 (1 Feb to 30 June) and 1 (1 July to 31 January). More information is available here.