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Deal On Farmed Salmon Will Hasten Wild Fish Demise

UK - First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP, yesterday jubilantly declared that the Scottish fish farming industry may need to double its production of salmon to satisfy Chinese demand, following the signing of a new trade deal.

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) believes this could spell further disaster for Scotland's iconic and endangered West Highland wild salmon and sea trout stocks.

S&TA CEO, Paul Knight, declares: "It is surely premature and irresponsible to signal such an enormous increase in farmed salmon production before the Scottish Government and fish farming industry have addressed the dire existing problems caused by fish farming. These include the transfer of deadly parasitic sea lice between farmed and wild fish, and the dilution of the genetic integrity of our native fish stocks through their interbreeding with farm escapees."

Mr Knight continued: "We applaud the stance and honesty of the UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, who, earlier this week, acknowledged that Scottish salmon farming has had an adverse impact on wild fish stocks. We look forward to a similarly honest approach from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Salmon Producers' Association."

Guy Linley-Adams, Lawyer with the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, said "For the First Minister to advocate doubling the industry's output without apparently any prior consideration of his legal obligations towards the conservation of wild fish and the impact on the environment, merely demonstrates a lack of understanding and commitment towards protecting these valuable and iconic natural resources."

This is particularly alarming in the light of public comments made at the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland Conference last March by leading Government scientists, that the industry may well have reached its natural capacity, due mainly to the inability to control sea lice and disease in fish farms.

S&TA is working in conjunction with other wild fish organisations, including the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards and Fish Legal, to protect wild salmon and sea trout from the impact of poorly operated and regulated fish farming.

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