Last night, BBC2’s Landward screened an episode examining the performance of salmon farms in Scotland. I watched the programme with interest along with thousands of anglers concerned about the impact these salmon farms are having on wild Atlantic Salmon stocks in our rivers.

We heard about the problems associated with elevated sea lice levels and how this in turn impacts wild salmon survival as they pass open water, open cage salmon farms located within their migratory routes.

We also heard about progress the industry has made to develop ‘sustainable methods’ to tackle the problems of lice infestations. We didn’t hear about the mass mortalities that occur on these farms as a result of lice and other diseases. This was conveniently overlooked by slick and carefully selected industry spokespersons that concentrated on publicising alternatives to chemical pesticide treatments. ‘Cleaner fish’; fish that eat the lice from the farmed salmon’s bodies, appear to be their new main weapon on this front.

I commented on a previous post elsewhere of other omissions within the programme that affect the wild salmon and there were many but, I feel Landwards maker’s failed to press for any evidence behind the claims that ‘Cleaner Fish’ were a successful and sustainable solution in the treatment of lice…perhaps the single largest problem facing the aquaculture industry and most certainly a serious issue for wild salmon. The Sea lice issues have been a concern for decades but never has this industry admitted their failures despite increasing pressure from environmental groups, campaigners and anglers around this country or the World. They do however claim to have improved their performance considerably…to us that indicates an admission of previous failures.

Consequently, we feel we must share the truth behind the smokescreens. Wrasse, Lumpsuckers and other ‘cleaner fish’ are captured from the wild and taken into captivity before being sold on to the industry. They apparently fetch a premium price. The fisherman that was interviewed for the programme indicated he was happy with his catch of seven wee wrasse for the day. 7 wee fish can surely not provide adequate income to make his venture worthwhile? This fisherman pointed out that he is careful not to take breeding sized fish so it’s ok to take smaller and juveniles? This is apparently sustainable? We see another environmental disaster looming!

It’s bad enough that the industry already dumps thousands of tonnes of reared salmon each year before they reach the markets due to disease, infections and lice, but what about the fate of the Cleaner fish? There was no word on how these fish survive in captivity. It seems they too suffer the same fate as salmon on these fish farms as photos and the video attached to this post show. They all too often end up in bins along with disease ridden and rotting salmon carcasses. Andy Richardson sent a photo showing dead salmon and cleaner fish in a skip.

‘Cleaner fish’ and farmed salmon that ended up in a skip

Andy is a well known campaigner and fishing film maker concerned over the impacts this industry has on Scottish wild salmon. So too is Don Staniford who shot this video and sent me the link. https://vimeo.com/292262400

Last night, BBC2’s Landward screened an episode examining the performance of salmon farms in Scotland. I watched the programme with interest along with thousands of anglers concerned about the impact these salmon farms are having on wild Atlantic Salmon stocks in our rivers.

We heard about the problems associated with elevated sea lice levels and how this in turn impacts wild salmon survival as they pass open water, open cage salmon farms located within their migratory routes.

We also heard about progress the industry has made to develop ‘sustainable methods’ to tackle the problems of lice infestations. We didn’t hear about the mass mortalities that occur on these farms as a result of lice and other diseases. This was conveniently overlooked by slick and carefully selected industry spokespersons that concentrated on publicising alternatives to chemical pesticide treatments. ‘Cleaner fish’; fish that eat the lice from the farmed salmon’s bodies, appear to be their new main weapon on this front.

I commented on a previous post of other omissions within the programme that affect the wild salmon and there were many but, I feel Landwards maker’s failed to press for any evidence behind the claims that ‘Cleaner Fish’ were a successful and sustainable solution in the treatment of lice…perhaps the single largest problem facing the aquaculture industry and most certainly a serious issue for wild salmon. The Sea lice issues have been a concern for decades but never has this industry admitted their failures despite increasing pressure from environmental groups, campaigners and anglers around this country or the World. They do however claim to have improved their performance considerably…to us that indicates an admission of previous failures.

Consequently, we feel we must share the truth behind the smokescreens. Wrasse, Lumpsuckers and other ‘cleaner fish’ are captured from the wild and taken into captivity before being sold on to the industry. They apparently fetch a premium price. The fisherman that was interviewed for the programme indicated he was happy with his catch of 7 wee wrasse for the day. 7 wee fish can surely not provide adequate income to make his venture worthwhile? This fisherman pointed out that he is careful not to take breeding sized fish so it’s ok to take smaller and juveniles? This is apparently sustainable? We see another environmental disaster looming.

It’s bad enough that the industry already dumps thousands of tonnes of reared salmon each year before they reach the markets due to disease, infections and lice, but what about the fate of the Cleaner fish? There was no word on how these fish survive in captivity. It seems they too suffer the same fate as salmon on these fish farms as photos and videos attached to this post show. They all too often end up in bins along with disease ridden or rotting salmon carcasses. Andy Richardson sent a photo showing dead salmon and cleaner fish in a skip. Andy is a well known campaigner and fishing film maker concerned over the impacts this industry has on Scottish wild salmon. So too is Don Staniford who shot this video and sent me this link. https://vimeo.com/292262400

We are grateful to both for exposing the much proclaimed ‘sustainable solution to lice control’ as another diabolical failure of the aquaculture industry.

Surely, there has to be an review and evidence provided that considers and reveals the threat to the cleaner fish? This is both the Fish Health Inspectorate’s and Marine Science Scotland’s territory and we will be writing to ask for details of mortalities and the impacts of harvesting these fish from the wild and then stocking them into cages along with thousands of farmed salmon. We care about wild salmon and we also care what happens to the other wild species in our environment. We won’t be easily convinced by industry claims that these fish are the solution to the problems while evidence emerges that they too are rotting in bins. Exploitation of wrasse for use in the aquaculture industry is already a concern in the South West of the UK. Worse, these wee fish end up in rotting in skips and sent to a hole in the ground when things go wrong as they inevitably do.

Cleaner fish won’t clean up the reputation of this dirty industry! We want the truth and will be asking for details from the Scottish Government as a freedom of information request (FOI).

We will post the Government’s response to our questions when we eventually receive one.

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