Environmental impacts of salmon farming

 

About the Inquiry

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee has agreed to undertake an inquiry into the environmental impact of salmon farming in Scotland.

The ECCLR Committee is carrying out this work in advance of the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee’s forthcoming inquiry on aquaculture in Scotland, the terms of reference for which will be considered in the coming weeks. The ECCLR Committee’s focus is the report commissioned by SPICe and undertaken by SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL). This report contains a review of literature on the environmental impacts of salmon farming in Scotland, the scale of the impacts and approaches to mitigating the impacts. This provides an update of the Scottish Government commissioned report: Review and synthesis of the environmental impacts of aquaculture, published in 2002.

The ECCLR Committee is interested in receiving views directly on the SAMS Research Services Ltd report and its contents. The Committee will not be considering wider issues in relation to the salmon farming sector as this is a matter for the REC Committee.

The Committee hosted a call for evidence and the deadline for responses was Thursday 8 February 2018. This timetable was to allow the ECCLR Committee to report to the REC Committee ahead of its wider inquiry. Submissions received after 8 February will not be considered by the ECCLR Committee.

Background

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals and plants in fresh, brackish or marine water environments. There is likely to be increasing demand for farmed fish given the predicted increase in world population and environmental pressures on land. 

In Scotland, finfish (as opposed to shellfish) aquaculture dominates. Atlantic salmon is the most commonly produced fish. Scotland is the largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU and one of the top three producers globally, producing 162,817 tonnes (£765m by value) in 2016. The industry has developed in west coast sea lochs and inshore waters since the late 1970s. In 2016 salmon farming employed 294 staff in smolt production and 1,486 in fish production (Marine Scotland Science, 2017). It has been estimated that the direct, indirect and induced impacts creates 10,340 jobs (Highlands and Island Enterprise, 2017).

Like all farm animals, fish may be susceptible to disease and infestations (in particular of sea lice). The Fish Health Inspectorate in Scotland aims to prevent the introduction and spread of fish diseases in Scotland. Sea lice remain one of the most important health issues for the Scottish salmon industry. Marine Scotland's sea lice policy requires fish farms to report to the FHI where an average of 3 sea lice per fish or more is found during a weekly count. This leads to monitoring and possible intervention and enforcement action.

In order to set up a fish farm consent is required by Local Authorities, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the Crown Estate, Marine Scotland licensing and the Fish Health Inspectorate. Ongoing monitoring of fish farms during their operation is carried out by SEPA, the Fish Health Inspectorate and local authorities in relation to food production.

Timetable

The Committee has agreed the following timetable for consideration of this research in order to report to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee ahead of its wider inquiry:
  

25 January 2018  Launch of inquiry including publication of research and call for evidence
30 January 2018 Evidence from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (available on Facebook Live)
6 February 2018 Evidence session with stakeholders.  The following have been invited to give evidence: Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Scottish Environment Link, Friends of the Sound of Jura, Loch Duart, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Scottish Government and Highland Council.
 28 February 2018 Consideration of draft report to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
W/C 5 March 2018 Send report to the REC Committee

 

Evidence

Focus of the Inquiry
The Committee sought views on the published report. A link to the report can be found below:

Call for evidence

The Committee hosted a call for views on the research between 25 January 2018 and 8 February 2018.  The Committee has now concluded this process and will be considering views received ahead of writing to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, which is conducting a wider inquiry into salmon farming.  Details of this, including how to submit views by 27 April 2018, are available on the Rural Economy and Connectivity webpage:

Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee: Salmon Farming in Scotland

Please note that the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has now concluded its call for evidence and cannot consider submissions received after the deadline of 8 February 2018 as part of the inquiry.

You can read the evidence received by the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee on the page below:

Correspondence

At its meeting on 16 January 2018, the Committee agreed to write to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee proposing committee reporters on the environmental impacts of salmon farming.

Letter from Convener of Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee regarding committee reporters on the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform inquiry on the environmental impacts of salmon farming. 

Following the Committee's evidence session on 30 January, the Committee received correspondence  from Professor Paul Tett correcting a statement he gave during his oral evidence.

Following the Committee's evidence session on 6 February, the Committee received correspondence  from John Aitchison, Friends of the Sound of Jura correcting a statement he gave during his oral evidence.   

Letter received from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform regarding the
Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations, 7 February 2018. 

Following the Committee's evidence session on 30 January, the Committee received correspondence from Professor Eric Verspoor wishing to qualify a statement he gave during his oral evidence.

Letter from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) providing a correction to their oral evidence given at the Committee evidence session on 6 February and further supplementary evidence. 

On 3 March 2018 the Committee wrote to the following 3 organisations regarding its inquiry into the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming: 

Letter from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) 28 March 2018 in response to the letter the Committee sent on 3 March 2018.

Letter from Marine Scotland 17 April  2018 in response to the letter the Committee sent on 3 March 2018. 

Work by other Committees

Details of the work of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee can be found below:
Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee

Report

On 5 March 2018, the Committee wrote to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee regarding its inquiry into the Environmental Impacts of salmon farming.

 

Read the report

On 5 March 2018, the Committee wrote to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee regarding its inquiry into the Environmental Impacts of salmon farming.

Report on Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming (1.19MB pdf)