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Background Info

The Scottish economy benefits from the income generated from salmon farming. However, we consider that currently the industry does a disproportionate amount of environmental harm with impunity. Much of the industry is subject to self-regulation in an environment where self-regulation is known not to work. Independent scrutiny is almost non-existent and is ineffective. Multinational companies make huge profits, often using the cheapest method of production, for example using bullets to shoot seals rather than non-lethal anti predator controls. Salmon farming has collapsed in several countries around the world, the multinational companies move on and apply the same failing techniques of profit over the environment. The salmon industry in Scotland could be the next to fail, especially if proposed expansion fails to address existing issues.

Mechanisation has reduced the potential benefits for high employment in remote rural areas and at least one Scottish Government Minister wants to double production from salmon farms. But without environmental consideration this could cause catastrophic effects on both the industry, other industries and activities that rely on Scotland's near pristine waters and Scotland's unique marine ecology. 

We would like to see the Scottish Government legislate for all salmon farms in Scotland to be closed-containment, i.e using a physical waterproof membrane between farmed salmon and the open sea, including a pumping or filtering system that prevents direct flow back into the sea or are land-based with similar filtering systems, then many of the adverse environmental factors could be eliminated. This is not to be confused with Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) but full filtering of seawater.

This would potentially allow the salmon farming industry in Scotland to increase without placing an additional burden on the Scottish marine environment upon which so many other industries, including tourism and fisheries, rely. If done correctly with independent supervision it has the potential to eliminate the shooting of seals, end harming cetaceans from acoustic deterrents and have a dramatic reduction in sea lice issues. Mass infections of wild salmonids and escape of farmed fish could be reduced or eliminated, vastly reducing potential gene pollution and probably lead to less chemical treatments and medicines being required. Waste products could be recycled creating additional income and employment. 

To date the industry has thwarted any concept of closed containment, citing cost as the major issue. If government were to insist on closed containment and encouraged the salmon industry to embrace its responsibilities in lessening their adverse environmental impact it would become cost effective, ensuring the sustainability of the industry and our environment.

This year has seen the results of two published reports; firstly the 'The Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming' by the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR), and secondly, 'Salmon farming in Scotland' undertaken by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (RECC). The findings of these reports highlight many of the issues currently facing the salmon industry in Scotland and we understand that salmon farming will be debated in the Scottish Parliament in 2019.

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