Monday, 7 November 2016

Herald Scotland: Oops: fish farm firm kills 175,000 of its salmon by accident

ONE of the world’s largest fish farming companies has accidentally killed more than 175,000 of its caged salmon in Scotland while trying to treat them for lice and disease, according to internal Government memos.

Blunders by Norwegian multinational, Marine Harvest, have cost millions of pounds and led to over 600 tonnes of salmon having to be incinerated. The losses have contributed to a 16 per cent drop in the company’s Scottish salmon production.

Campaigners have accused Marine Harvest of treating salmon cruelly, and warn that lice and diseases are “choking the Scottish salmon farming industry to death”. They mock plans to double the size of the industry by 2030 as “sheer lunacy”.

The worst incident took place in July and August on a salmon farm in Loch Greshornish on the Isle of Skye. Some 95,400 fish were killed by a new device called a thermolicer, which is designed to rid salmon of the sea lice that plague them.

But the way it does this – by suddenly immersing fish in water much warmer than they are used to – can also kill the fish themselves. What happened on Skye was explained in a memo on 12 September from Government officials to the Rural Economy Minister, Fergus Ewing.

The “sudden temperature change” caused by the thermolicer killed 95 per cent of the lice but also caused “significant mortalities” amongst the salmon, it said. Officials estimated that the losses cost Marine Harvest over £2.7 million.

“This report highlights the ongoing difficulties and costs faced by industry with regards to sea lice management,” concluded the memo, which was released under freedom of information law.

Another 20,000 salmon were killed at Loch Greshornish fish farm by other attempts to rid them of sea lice using chemicals. There are concerns that lice are becoming increasingly resistant to chemical treatment.

In a second memo to Ewing on September 26, officials revealed more inadvertent deaths, this time at a Marine Harvest fish farm in Soay Sound off the Isle of Harris. Earlier that month 60,000 salmon had been killed by hydrogen peroxide used to treat them for amoebic gill disease.

In the last few months Marine Harvest fish farms in the Hebrides and Wester Ross have suffered a series of outbreaks of gill disease. Hundreds of thousands of dead fish have reportedly been transported to Wigan, near Manchester, to be incinerated.

According to the company’s latest quarterly report to investors, its production of salmon in Scotland has dropped by 16 per cent since last year. Costs increased due to “incident based mortality” that was “mainly related to gill disease and sea-lice treatment losses”, the report said.

On October 28, the fish farming industry launched a plan to double its business from £1.8 billion this year to £3.6bn by 2030. The plan was backed by Ewing, who promised to set up an “industry leadership group”.

But the ambition has been derided by anti-fish farm campaigners. “With lice infestation and gill diseases already plaguing salmon farming, this is sheer lunacy,” said Don Staniford, director of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture.

It was Staniford who obtained the Government memos revealing the accidental deaths. “That Marine Harvest is desperate enough to resort to a decidedly dodgy thermolicer shows how deep-rooted the industry’s disease problems are,” he said.

The animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming, described the thermolicer as “a very brutal form of treatment which clearly causes distress and suffering to the fish”. It currently opposes its commercial use.

“Killing fish by overheating, whether accidental or not, is simply inhumane,” said the group’s chief executive, Philip Lymbery, “All current forms of treating sea lice entail problems.”

The Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, has lodged a parliamentary question asking for a list of fish farming incidents over the last two years. He questioned whether the industry could double production “without disastrous consequences.”

Marine Harvest pointed out that the salmon killed in the “unfortunate” thermolicer incident had been weakened by gill disease. “We regret any loss of fish and are always mindful of the welfare of the fish and aim to continuously improve our methods to address changing environmental circumstances,” said the company’s manager Steve Bracken.

“We have been dealing with a number of challenges in relation to fish health,” he added. “We have also faced challenges with amoebic gill disease which is increasing in this part of the world as a result of climate change.”

According to the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, “unexpected incidents” can happen with new treatment technology. “Any growth will be achieved responsibly and sustainably,” said chief executive Scott Landsburgh.

The Scottish Government welcomed new ways of dealing with sea lice that avoided the use of medicines. “Industry is undertaking research with a number of partners to improve the effectiveness of these innovative treatments and enhance their reliability so that they do not cause accidental killing of fish,” said a spokesperson.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Campaigners Fear ‘Back Door’ Salmon Farming Via Galway Bay Test Site

#FishFarm - Could proposals for the Galway Bay Marine and Renewable Energy Test Site provide a back door for fish farming in the bay?
That’s the concern of local campaigners after a Statutory Instrument was enacted earlier this month that changes the licensing laws for salmon farming for research purposes, as the Connacht Tribune reports.
The new law allows for salmon farms under 50 tonnes to operate without an Environmental Impact Assessment – one of the issues before the withdrawl last year of controversial plans for what would have been one of the largest aquaculture projects in Europe off the Aran Islands.
According to Billy Smyth, chair of campaign group Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, the move confirms suspicions that the Marine Institute test site off Spiddal could be used for fish farming.
“Let the Marine Institute just ask the Norwegians for the results of their research and save money,” he said.
The public consultation on the foreshore lease application for upgrades to the present test siteclosed earlier this month.
But contributions are still being sought on a new strategy for coastal communities with fishing and fish farming interests under the FLAG West scheme, following a series of public meetings in Co Galway last week. Galway Bay FM has more HERE.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Scottish Sea Farms starts sea lice device trials

Salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) has invested more than £4m in new equipment that uses a chemical-free approach to controlling sea lice.

The Thermolicer is fitted on a boat or a barge and can treat up to 80 tons of fish per hour, according to its manufacturer
Trials of the Thermolicer device are under way in Shetland.
It works by bathing fish briefly in lukewarm water, capitalising on the parasite's low tolerance for sudden changes in temperature.
No chemicals are used and the fish are unharmed in the process, according to SSF.
The Thermolicer, which is made by Norwegian firm Steinsvik, is fitted on a boat or a barge. Each machine can treat up to 80 tons of fish per hour.
The sea louse is a naturally-occurring parasite that is responsible for significant losses to wild and farmed fish stocks.
It can latch on to salmon, eat their skin and blood, and cause infections.

'Sea lice challenge'

SSF said it would share its experiences of using the Thermolicer with other salmon farmers in Scotland.
Ralph Bickerdike, head of fish health for SSF, said: "Sea lice is a challenge for all fish farmers in most salmon-producing areas.
"At Scottish Sea Farms we intend being part of the solution to this challenge.
"Our work with SAIC (Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre) and other industry partners in this area has already reaped huge benefits through our work with wrasse and lumpfish - varieties of cleaner fish.
"The Thermolicer is the latest step in developing alternative tools to maintain a sustainable solution to fish health management."
SAIC chief executive Heather Jones said: "We are delighted to see this level of innovation and collaboration happening in Scotland.
"The industry is tackling the biological issues it faces with energy and initiative, and with a strong commitment to sustainable practices."

Saturday, 2 April 2016

FDA’s approval of GMO salmon: What are the environmental risks?

RT News 2nd April 2016
The FDA has not paid attention to possible negative environmental impact, if genetically modified salmon are released in the wild, Brettny Hardy, Earthjustice told RT’s Anya Parampil.
A coalition of environmental, fishing and consumer groups have filed a suit against the US Food and Drug Administration over its approval of genetically engineered salmon. It is the first such animal to be sold for commercial consumption.
Brettny Hardy is one of the lawyers filing the suit.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Salmon Watch Ireland: Letter to ALAB : Recent High Court Ruling

Click here to read recent letter from Salmon Watch Ireland
Salmon Watch Ireland: Letter to ALAB : Recent High Court Ruling

Project puts wild salmon at risk - The Telegram

Letter to the editor of The Telegram
Published Article:

Something sinister to our future is trying to sneak into our province and destroy what we hold dear, including our wild fish.

It comes under the guise of a so-called harmless fish farm expansion in Placentia Bay by Grieg Newfoundland AS of Norway that uses job creation to lure supporters, including our scarce taxpayers’ dollars.

What they try to diminish, even hide, is that this project will inject more than 10 million (7 million annual production) imported European origin salmon into the waters of Placentia Bay. And this is only the beginning! The total wild stock in all of Canada is less than 1 million.

Moreover, the entire south coast (more than 50 rivers facing an endangered species listing) has less than 25 per cent more fish than what typically escapes or “vanishes” a year from the current numbers of open net pens — without this doubling of open net pen production.

If allowed to expand under the proposed plan, these imported salmon will live in supposedly escape-proof cages. Obviously there are no such cages and fish will escape. Supposedly, they will all be sterile females, but once again this will not be the case and is merely PR spin-doctoring.

Escaped fish can roam thousands of miles and will eventually end up in all of our salmon rivers. There is no “safe distance” for an operation like this from salmon rivers.

Even sterile fish that attempt to spawn will have a very negative impact on the reproduction of wild fish. Also, farmed fish are a proven major vector for various diseases which will infect wild populations.

I don’t think it is exaggeration to say that the future of wild salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador is at serious risk from this project. That is on top of the problems around the cage sites of massive waste and disease problems and pollution of pristine waters with chemicals and antibiotics.

Placentia Bay rivers will be  an immediate write-off for sure. Garnish River in Fortune Bay has already been invaded by thousands of escaped farm fish and DFO in 2014 quietly netted out a pile and dug a hole and buried them. The salmon cages over in Fortune Bay are a drop in the bucket compared to the Grieg proposal. Anglers I talked to last summer on Cape Roger River told me that Garnish River is going down fast.

Grieg and its supporters will try to convince us that there is a safe distance for these cages from salmon rivers. There isn’t. They will also say that sterile female fish will not interfere with wild salmon spawning if they do get into salmon rivers. Also not correct. What if there are escapees that are fertile? What if some are males?

Despite the billions of Norwegian dollars behind them, salmon farms were recently turned down in Iceland. See

What Grieg is proposing is the largest introduction of a genetically foreign species to our province, ever.

I would urge everyone to write to Environment Minister Perry Trimper and ask that this proposal by Grieg receive a full and extensive environmental assessment with a full environmental impact statement as per section 51(b) of the Environmental Protection Act, and an environmental impact statement per sections 53(b), 55, 57-67 of the Act. In other words, as comprehensive a review as we saw, for example, in the Terra Nova oilfield environmental review chaired by the late  Leslie Harris

In closing, I offer the words of our Court of Appeal on the role of environmental assessment in Newfoundland and Labrador. In Friends of the Oldman River Society vs. Canada (Minister of Transport), 1992, Justice Gérard V. La Forest described the environment’s protection “as one of the major challenges of our time.” In this statement, the Supreme Court of Canada encapsulates the critical need of reconciling the use of the earth’s natural resources with the protection of the environment.

This is the responsibility of all who care about our future.

Bill Bryden


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Major Escape of Farmed Salmon from the Clare Island Salmon Farm

Open Letter to Minister Simon Coveney
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney
Dear Minister Coveney,

It has been confirmed to Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) by the Marine Institute in Newport that they were made aware on the 19th February by your Department of a major escape of farmed salmon from the Clare Island salmon farm around that date. GBASC were first made aware of this escape by an anonymous letter which I received on the 4th of March. We are furious that your Department or any other Government agency failed to notify the public through the media of this escape. This smacks of a cover up by Government agencies so as not to embarrass the salmon farm industry.

The public should have been warned not to eat the escaped salmon if captured, as they may have been dosed with toxic pesticides to kill sea lice shortly before they escaped, making them unsafe to eat, due to the fact that at the time of their escape they wouldn't have gone through a withdrawal period. These escaped salmon could end up in any river along the coast as they may follow the wild spring salmon that are now running the rivers. Scientific research from around the world shows that interbreeding between farmed and wild salmon can seriously damage the genetic integrity of the wild population in a river system which also has escaped farm salmon.

Escaped farmed salmon have, over the years been caught on the Corrib river here in Galway but no one could tell us where they escaped from, this is why we call for all farmed smolts to be microtagged before they are transferred to the salmon farms.  
Minister, could you please let me know the exact date when the escape occurred, how many salmon escaped, what size they were, and had they been dosed with pesticides before they escaped.
It is incidents like this escape, that are kept secret from the public, which reinforces our view that all open sea cage salmon farms should be taken out of the marine environment and transferred to on land Closed Containment Systems.

Yours sincerely,
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages