Row breaks out over salmon escapes

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 February 2007, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - The war of words is continuing over the number of salmon which have escaped from Scottish fish farms and their impact on the environment.

The Salmon Farm Protest Group yesterday (Sunday) claimed that Shetland and parts of the Scottish Highlands no longer had a productive or healthy sea trout fishery due to infection by sea lice from farmed salmon.

The claim came as the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation's chief executive Sid Patten planned to announce today (Monday) that the number of escaped salmon has almost halved from 310,000 in 2002 to 157,000 in 2006.

"Effective containment is a priority," he will tell a meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Aquaculture.

"With the exception of the severe storms in January 2005 when a handful of the 278 active sites suffered badly, there has been a significant declining trend since reporting began."

Mr Patten will question claims that escaped farmed fish outnumbered wild fish. Quoting from the Scottish Salmon and Sea Trout Catches statistics, he will say that 2005 was to be the fifth highest on record for rod catches with 80,000 fish caught, with only 230 coming from fish farms.

He is to say: "The reasons for the decline in both wild salmon and sea trout are much debated, as it is an enormously complex issue with a wide-ranging number of potential influences, such as climate change, predation from seals, over-fishing, agricultural run-off and re-stocking."

Source: Shetland Marine News