Aquaculture for all

War of words continues between animal welfare charity and ASC

Atlantic Salmon Sea lice Welfare +7 more

Compassion in World Farming has asked that ASC provides scientific evidence to support its decision to allow salmon farms in Scotland to raise the threshold for the number of mature female sea lice per farmed salmon from 0.1 to 0.5.

Checking sea lice numbers at a salmon farm in Norway

CiWF is determined that the ASC reverts to a universal limit of 0.1 adult female lice per salmon, rather than allowing some countries - like Scotland - greater leeway, in accordance with the sector's own rules © Juan E Trigo

CiWF’s latest request follows the ASC’s response to CiWF’s demand to to reverse its policy regarding the acceptable levels of sea lice permitted in farmed salmon.

Dr Krzysztof Wojtas, head of fish policy at CIWF, has now written to The Fish Site, to reiterate his stance. As he wrote:

“While some progress has been made with the new Salmon Standard – including requirements for sampling and reporting, as well as improved control mechanisms following threshold breaches – we remain concerned about the lice limit change.

“The ASC states that ‘various equally important measures {in addition to the metric limit} were either omitted or worked counter-effectively’. We do not believe this is valid justification to increase the sea lice metric unit that could cause more suffering. 

“We question the justification behind the figure of 0.5 adult female lice metric limit being considered an improvement in terms of welfare for both farmed and wild salmon, given the previous limit of 0.1, and would like to see the scientific research underpinning this decision.

“We would also welcome further details on the ‘strict measures’ that are to be applied in the case of non-compliance. The list of exemptions stated as including ‘unforeseen increases in on-farm sea lice levels’ could be interpreted in numerous scenarios negatively impacting fish welfare.

“Sea lice are a significant problem for wild and farmed fish, and salmon farms are the perfect breeding grounds for lice. We believe certification schemes like ASC should be setting standards that prevent and control the spread, not relaxing the rules.”

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