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Mortalities, medication and the impact of climate change


The causes of fish mortality, the impact of climate change and the development of treatments will be the focus for the newly refreshed Farmed Fish Health Framework.

The new framework prioritises three main areas relating to fish health

The 10-year framework, which is a collaboration between the aquaculture sector, the Scottish Government and its advisers, will now concentrate on areas that make a direct and tangible difference to fish health in Scotland.

Mortality priorities

  • Develop a consistent reporting methodology for collection of information on the causes of farmed fish mortality over recent years.
  • Provide survival data for marine rainbow trout and marine salmon and ensure that the Farmed Fish Health Framework activities remain appropriate.

Climate change priorities

  • Consider the creation of real time monitoring of plankton in, and alert of the occurrence of, potentially harmful phytoplankton species.
  • Determine how best to measure changing climatic conditions in Scotland particular to aquaculture leading to an annual mapping exercise. This should include an assessment of currently available environmental data from around fish farms, for example real-time temperature data.

Treatment priorities

  • Encourage development of new medicines with the aim of increasing treatment flexibility and allowing the potential to explore treatment rotation in Scotland, within environmentally sustainable limits, appropriate use of veterinary medicines through ‘cascade’, and treatment residue containment and neutralization.

New chair

The Scottish Government’s chief veterinary officer, Dr Sheila Voas, will chair a reformatted steering group, which is expected to include representatives from a range of aquaculture interests. Other stakeholders will feed in their areas of expertise through a new workshop approach.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I am delighted that Dr Voas has agreed to chair the redesigned Farmed Fish Health Framework Steering Group.

“Sheila is a much-respected figure within animal health and is ideally placed to bring a fresh perspective to aquatic animal health, and promote linkages between animal and aquatic health, including the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission.

“The Farmed Fish Health Framework’s focus on fish health and securing a sustainable future for Scotland’s top food export is crucial, and it is ideally placed to contribute to wider work aimed at sustainable economic recovery.

“I would like to thank all involved for their time and efforts to deliver the Farmed Fish Health Framework to date and their continued commitment to improving fish health and welfare in Scotland, ensuring that Scotland continues to set a leading example in this area.”