The Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) (S&TA(S)) has today expressed disbelief at the response made by Marine Scotland Science, which provides scientific and technical advice on behalf of Scottish Government, to a planning application by the fish-farmer, Wester Ross Fisheries Limited, to install 46 steel pen fish cages in Loch Kanaird in Wester Ross at its existing fish-farm at Ardmair.

Marine Scotland Science’s letter of 13th June 2013 to the Highland Council deals with the risks to effective sea lice management as a result of the application and comes to the conclusion that “strategies for dealing with sea lice are satisfactory as far as can reasonably be foreseen.” The Marine Scotland Science letter is under the ‘documents’ tab at 13/01494/FUL | Marine Fish Farm - Atlantic Salmon - Alterations to existing site to create single group of 46 square steel pens each 15m x 15m and allow for the installation of an automated feed barge. | Loch Kanaird Eastern Side Of Isle Martin.

However, evidence compiled by the S&TA(S) from Marine Scotland Science’s own records covering the period 2009 to 2013 - and listed in the Annex to this Press Release - shows the Ardmair farm has been characterised by lice levels in excess of Code of Good Practice thresholds and serious concerns over the use and efficacy of available treatments.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said:
“The evidence the S&TA(S) has gathered from Marine Scotland Science itself under freedom of information suggests that the strategies used by Wester Ross Fisheries Limited over the last few years at Ardmair have not been satisfactory at all – far from it. And if anything can be ‘reasonably foreseen’ at the Ardmair farm, in our view it is certainly not that sea-lice control is likely to be effective.

Sea lice infestations now being seen on wild sea trout in the Two Brooms area are related to the fact that the numbers of adult sea lice per fish on the hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon in the vicinity earlier this year were in effect out of control. A reservoir of adult breeding female lice on farmed fish in farms like Ardmair will have produced many millions of juvenile sea lice to populate the local marine environment. Inevitably juvenile wild salmon and sea trout, migrating from local rivers, will have been and are being infested with devastating consequences.”

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, added:
“For Marine Scotland Science to come out with such bland ‘identikit’ assurances, given what their own information shows, is unforgiveable.
We are left to wonder whether they even looked at what they had in their own files before they responded. They need to look closer at the record of the Ardmair farm and rethink their response. Simply rubber-stamping fish farm applications without taking account of all the evidence in their own possession is unacceptable.”