Import of live smolts
The media coverage has centred on the assumption that Scottish fish farmers wish to import live smolts from Norway. However, as the major companies currently farming salmon in Scotland, we wish to assure the ASFB, RAFTS, concerned MSPs, and the public in general, that we have no intention of importing live fish from outwith the British Isles. We take this stance because, historically, live fish transfers are acknowledged as a significant risk factor in disease transmission.
As responsible farmers, we are mindful of the paramount importance of biosecurity.
Like the Scottish wild fish lobby, we are aware that current EU trade rules mean that, where the relevant veterinary health certification can be obtained, there can be no legal impediment to a trade in live smolts between countries such as Norway and Scotland. However, we share the ASFB's concerns in regard to the spread of disease and parasites such as Gyrodactylus salaris in association with international trade in live fish.
We believe that the import of salmon eggs is quite another matter. Before any international trade in ova can take place, there must be full testing of the parent stock in the country of origin, to ensure that the parents do not carry any vertically transmissible disease. This testing, carried out under veterinary supervision, must conform to strict protocols, and must be certified by the authorities. Eggs for export are additionally disinfected before despatch - a process which is also certified.
In common with other Scottish salmon farmers, we import some salmon eggs from Norway, as well as from other countries. We would wish to leave the door open for this trade, since it provides us with commercial flexibility and security of supply. As responsible operators, we insist that the units sending the eggs have carried out all the required testing and disinfection procedures, and that all necessary certification is in place. We also ensure that imported eggs are disinfected again once they reach their destination, and that all packaging materials and transport medium are disposed of in a safe manner. At every stage, biosecurity is the top priority. We wish to stress that eggs are only imported from countries where a strict testing, biosecurity, disinfection and certification procedure is in place.
We therefore believe that the import of salmon eggs does not constitute a danger to Scottish native salmonid stocks, nor to our own stocks of farmed salmon.
We therefore wish to state publicly that we support calls from the ASFB, RAFTS and other bodies for action from the European Commission to ensure that, despite EU free trade rules, ongoing additional protection can be given to Scotland's native stocks of wild salmonids in relation to a ban on the import of live salmonid smolts from outwith the British Isles.
We also hope that the media will now stop publishing claims that there is 'mounting pressure' from the industry to import live smolts from Norway.
Courtesy of Odd Geir Oddsen, MD, Pan Fish Scotland LTD, Hvard Grontvedt, MD, Marine Harvest (Scotland) and Alan Anderson, MD, Fjord Seafood Scotland.
The FishSite News Desk