“SHOCKING level of mortalities” across Scottish salmon industry “casts severe doubt on whether RSPCA Assured is much more than a fig leaf” – S&TCS

Below, unedited, is the July 4, 2017 press release issued by the Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS):

NB: To date; neither have the RSPCA nor the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) issued a statement on their website to comment on the report discussed below.

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New report estimates that Scottish salmon farming mortalities are now running at 20 million fish-a-year despite 2/3rds of the industry being certified as RSPCA Assured

04/07/2017

Percentage by weight of mortality has almost doubled in last four years as industry fails to cope with parasites and disease

A new report for Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS) on RSPCA Assured certification of Scottish farmed salmon reveals that Scottish salmon farming mortalities as a percentage of total production have almost doubled in the last four years.

On the basis of official data, the report estimates that over 41 million fish died during 2015 and 2016, an average of over 20 million fish per annum.

With 67% of the industry signed up to the RSPCA Assured certification scheme, pro rata, this mortality would equate to approximately 27 million fish dying on RSPCA Assured farms in 2015 and 2016, although, as those RSPCA Assured farms are not named by the RSPCA, the exact figures cannot be known.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TCS, said:

“There is no doubt that the RSPCA Assured logo on packets of Scottish farmed salmon is intended to persuade supermarket customers that what they are buying is consistently reared with high standards of animal husbandry and protection for the wider marine environment.

The shocking level of mortalities apparent across the industry, including on RSPCA Assured farms, casts severe doubt on whether RSPCA Assured is much more than a fig leaf, both in terms of the welfare of the farmed fish and the wider environmental performance of the fish farming industry.

S&TCS fears that consumers are left in the dark both about the welfare of the farmed salmon, but also about the environmental impact of the fish farms producing these fish.”

Mr Graham-Stewart added:

“The alarming incidence of parasites and disease on the fish farms, which causes many of these mortalities, also has major implications for wild fish outside the farms, particularly the huge numbers of juvenile sea lice released from the farms into the sea lochs where they infest wild salmon and sea trout”.

Guy Linley-Adams, solicitor for S&TCS’ aquaculture reform campaign, said:

“The doubling of the rate of mortalities over the last four years should be prompting the Scottish Government to ask serious questions of the industry and we look to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee to fully address this issue within their recently announced Inquiry into the salmon farming industry, a direct result of S&TCS’ detailed Petition to the Scottish Parliament last year.

The RSPCA should also re-consider urgently its endorsement of Scottish salmon farming and ask itself whether lending support to an industry with this level of mortalities and serious environmental impact, is really compatible with their charitable objectives”.

The S&TCS report “RSPCA Assured certification of Scottish farmed salmon” is available here

S&TCS recently wrote to the RSPCA. The letter concluded:

“While S&TCS fully respects the RSPCA’s remit in matters of animal welfare, it is disappointed to note that the very weak environmental standards within the welfare standards applied to farmed salmon continue to be applied and do nothing to address the myriad problems of salmon farms to which S&TCS, and S&TA before it, has tried to alert you. A report will be published very shortly, but S&TCS’ clear view is that the RSPCA Assured scheme should now be suspended, pending what should be an open review.”

Source: S&TCS PR (04.07.2017) http://www.salmon-trout.org/new-report-estimates-that-scottish-salmon-farming-mortalities-are-now-running-at-20-million-fish-a-year-despite-23rds-of-the-industry-being-certified-as-rspca-assured/news/443

Reference:

S&TCS (2017). RSPCA Assured certification of Scottish farmed salmon. A report for Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland – June 2017. Published online July 4, 2017 : http://www.salmon-trout.org/downloads/RSPCA_Assured_report_2017_FINAL.pdf

Excerpted from the Executive Summary:

“The percentage of the Scottish salmon farming industry that is said to be certified by the RSPCA Assured scheme has dropped from 78% in 2012 to 67% in 2015. Data suggests that between 2015 and 2016 a total of 41,130 tonnes of farmed salmon died on Scottish fish farms generally as a result of one or more of fish diseases, infestation with parasites, damage caused by handling, crowding of fish, treatment losses and predation. As 67% of the salmon farming industry is RSPCA Assured, pro rata, this mortality would equate to roughly 27 million fish having died on RSPCA Assured farms between 2015 and 2016. The percentage by weight of mortality as against total production of the Scottish salmon farming industry by weight between 2013 and 2016 has almost doubled from under 7% to almost 14%.”

Excerpts from the 26-page report:

3.8 It is claimed by RSPCA Assured that “unlike other labelling schemes, we are completely independent from the food and farming industries” .

3.9 However, in respect of farmed salmon, members of the RSPCA Salmon (Freshwater) Standards Technical Advisory Group (FW) and RSPCA Salmon (Seawater) Standards Technical Advisory Group (SW), which are both heavily involved in setting the welfare standards applied by RSPCA Assured, are dominated by the salmon farming industry and associated companies, with at least 20 of 24 members of that Group from the industry : […]

stc-2013-2016-scottish-salmon-mortalities-figures-june-2017-report

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stc-recommendation-june-2017-report-re-rscpa-farmed-salmon-freedom-food-standard

Seen in The Times today (July 7, 2017):

death-rate-doubles-at-20m-fish-a-year-the-times-07-07-2017

and in the Scottish press:

death-rate-doubles-at-20m-fish-a-year-the-herald-05-07-2017