Since then we have acquired a reputation as an influential advocate for salmon conservation within the United Kingdom. Traditionally our work has been in the freshwater environment, but more recently we have focused on the lives of wild salmon at sea.
The AST and 26 other organisations have today supported a call led by Salmon & Trout Conservation for a moratorium on new open cage marine salmon farms or expansion of existing sites, until issues raised by the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) Committee in their report (www.parliament.scot/S5_Environment/Inquiries/20180305_GD_to_Rec_salmon_farming.pdf) to the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC)Committee are addressed.
The AST is a research based organisation which has serious concerns about the impact of open cage salmon farming on wild salmon and sea trout populations and the environment, as have been reported in peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications. We therefore support a pause in the expansion of open cage salmon farming at this time.
You still have time to send your views to the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee inquiry: www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/107585.aspx
Demand for immediate moratorium on salmon farm expansion
Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TC Scotland) is today leading a call for an immediate moratorium on any new open cage marine salmon farms in Scotland or any expansion of existing sites.
The call is supported by a wide cross section of 27 environmental NGOs and other bodies, demanding that:
Until the current failings in the regulation of the salmon farming industry and the environmental problems the industry causes, as identified by the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee, are resolved, there must be an immediate moratorium on any new marine open cage fish farms or any expansion of existing fish farm sites, including any increases in farmed fish biomass at existing sites, as any expansion of the industry now will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.
The call for an immediate moratorium is supported and endorsed by Angling Trust, Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, Argyll Fisheries Trust, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Community of Arran Seabed Trust, Fauna & Flora International, Fish Legal, Friends of Loch Etive, Friends of the Sound of Jura, Lochaber District Salmon Fishery Board, Lochaber Fisheries Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Orkney Trout Fishing Association, Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, Scottish Anglers National Association, Salmon Aquaculture Reform Network Scotland, Save Seil Sound, Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation, Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust, Scottish Salmon Think-Tank, Skye District Salmon Fishery Board, Skye & Lochalsh Environment Forum, Skye & Wester Ross Fisheries Trust, Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TC Scotland, said:
“The all-party ECCLR Committee of the Scottish Parliament unanimously agreed their report in March and concluded that the current consenting and regulatory framework for the salmon farming industry is inadequate to address the environmental issues. They were not convinced the sector is being regulated sufficiently, or regulated sufficiently effectively, and made it clear that this needs to be addressed urgently because further expansion must be on an environmentally sustainable basis.
They also said that if the current issues are not addressed this expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment, concluding ‘the status quo is not an option’.
As it stands, these issues remain completely unresolved and, as the oral evidence given on April 18 to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee by SEPA, the Crown Estate, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Highland Council shows, we are a very long way from addressing them”.
Last week alone, the Highland Council granted planning permission for two new salmon farms on Skye and the Argyll and Bute Council permitted an increase in biomass of farmed fish on two farms on Loch Fyne, where the record of sea lice control and mortalities on The Scottish Salmon Company farms over the last two production cycles has been amongst the worst in Scotland.
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TC Scotland, said:
“If planning departments don’t believe that the firm conclusions of the ECCLR Committee’s report are sufficient to enable them to refuse such applications and so are carrying on with business as usual, then we need a moratorium now.
If we agree with the MSPs on the ECCLR Committee that further expansion must be sustainable and that, unless current issues are addressed, any expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage, there can be no other logical conclusion.
Nobody, not even the salmon farmers themselves, should be supporting expansion while current environmental issues are still to be addressed.”
Today (Wednesday 14th March) at 10am the Scottish Parliamentary Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee will hear evidence from environmental NGO’s for their Inquiry into Salmon Farming in Scotland.
Giving evidence are:
Jon Gibb, Clerk, Lochaber District Salmon Fishery Board;
Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive, Fisheries Management Scotland;
Dr Richard Luxmoore, Senior Nature Conservation Adviser at the National Trust for Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Environment LINK;
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor, on behalf of Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland.
Below is the link to watch live:
The video recording of the evidence session will be archived on Scottish Parliament TV and available to watch at your convenience.
The Agenda and Papers for the Committee meeting is in the second link:
The Call for written evidence is available using the link below. Submissions must be made by 27 April 2018:
The Atlantic Salmon Trust’s position paper on salmon aquaculture can be viewed here: Aquaculture Position Paper Nov. 2016
On the 7th March 2018 the Environment Agency has announced a Statutory Advertisement with proposals to change salmon byelaws in an effort to protect wild salmon stocks, which continue to be at very low levels. The advertisement will run from the 7th March 2018 until the 8th April 2018. Objections must be received no later than the 8th April 2018.
In 2014 wild salmon stocks in England were at their lowest level ever recorded, and these stocks have continued to perform poorly in 2015 and 2016.
The Environment Agency has proposed new measures and byelaws for managing salmon stocks in England and the Border Esk. Please use this link to view the advertisement and proposed measures: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/fisheries/proposed-national-salmon-byelaws/
The proposals include:
Kevin Austin, Environment Agency’s Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment said:
“The measures and byelaws we are proposing are based on both scientific research data and on the results we received from our initial consultation. It has not been an easy decision, as many people will be affected. However, we risk seeing the further decline of salmon across England if we do not act now.
“The majority of people who responded to our initial consultation agreed that more needed to be done to protect salmon. We are working hard to improve conditions for all phases of the salmon lifecycle to increase their abundance and diversity. We are also working with partners, water companies and other organisations to deliver these improvements.
“Our work has already seen salmon returning to rivers in England, such as the River Tyne in Northumbria, where they have been extinct for many years. Whilst we realise there is still much to do, we are proud of the work we have achieved with our partners and other organisations, and will continue to work hard to protect this iconic species.”
The EA’s proposed changes to the salmon byelaws have not been suggested lightly. A public consultation was undertaken in 2017, in which over 1,100 responses were received. The majority of the respondents to the consultation agreed that further action was needed.
The results of the initial consultation which ran from August to October 2017, helped inform the proposed byelaws, and can also be viewed online here: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/fisheries/managing-salmon-net-and-rod-fisheries/
The EA has acknowledged and welcomed the significant progress which has been made towards the voluntary adoption of Catch and Release by angling clubs across the country, and the important role they play ensuring salmon in our rivers are protected.
On rivers categorised as “Probably at Risk” anglers have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can reach better than 90% Catch and Release before the EA decides whether to introduce mandatory byelaws.
The Atlantic Salmon Trust, FishPal and Angling Trust produced a YouTube series with Andy Ford from Sky Sports Tight Lines, giving guidance on good Catch & Release practice. This series can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXsDg09-APY7hX9W5F8HA9FoiJjg2FiSe
The EA has recognised that reducing the catch of salmon is not the full solution to the continuing decline of salmon stocks and have committed to working with partners to reduce the impacts on salmon from; barriers such as weirs, water quality, low flows and agricultural pollution.
Kevin Austin, Environment Agency’s Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment said in January:
“The reasons for the decline of salmon are complex, and there is no single solution; reducing the catch of salmon can only partly contribute to the recovery of salmon stocks. We continue to work closely with water companies and other partners to improve water quality and low flows on salmon rivers. We are also investing and working together with partners and other organisations to improve fish passage on schemes up and down the country”.
The Atlantic Salmon Trust have worked with the Environment Agency, Government, Angling Trust, Wild Trout Trust, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK, Rivers Trust and Institute of Fisheries Management to set out an agreed programme of action to restore England’s salmon populations – the Salmon Five Point Approach.
The Salmon Five Point Approach sets out actions to address the key pressures that affect the different life stages of salmon. The priorities are:
The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee published their “Report” on the 5th March 2018 to help inform a wider inquiry into the current state of the industry, which is being carried out by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
Some of the key findings include…
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, Graeme Dey MSP, said:
“The sector has ambitious expansion targets but the Committee is concerned as to how these can be achieved in an environmentally-sustainable way.
“The sector continues to grow and expand with little meaningful thought given to the impact this will have on the environment. In the Committee’s view, if the current environmental impact issues are not addressed, the expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage.
“The Committee is supportive of aquaculture but expansion must be based on a precautionary approach and on resolving environmental problems. The status quo, in terms of approach and regulation, is not an option.
“In raising awareness of the serious environmental concerns, the Committee hopes to helpfully inform the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s upcoming wider scrutiny of the salmon industry in Scotland.”
Read the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s report on the environmental impacts of salmon farming: “Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee report on the environmental impacts of salmon farming.”
The future of Scotland’s farmed salmon industry will come under the scrutiny of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee and it encourages individuals and organisations to share their views as part of its inquiry.
The deadline for submitting evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee is 27th April. The Committee will produce a report detailing its findings once it has concluded its anticipated evidence taking in March, April and May.
Source: Scottish Parliament News