GOOD TO see BBC Scotland finally getting stuck in to the controversy surrounding salmon farming this evening with a special investigation into the risks of sea lice to stocks of wild migratory Atlantic salmon and sea trout.

Salmon farming
BBC investigates the salmon farming industry

Although the programme, Scotland’s Fishy Secrets was only aired north of the Border, it is available for the next week on the BBC’s iPlayer and will also be broadcast on BBC 2 on Saturday at 18:15.

Science correspondent Kenneth Macdonald questioned whether the aquaculture industry is being vetted closely enough and asked whether the Scottish Government was delivering sufficient regulation to protect wild fish stocks. He also challenged three of the major High Street supermarkets over their “responsibly farmed’ labelling on Scottish salmon products.

The BBC obtained Freedom of Information statistics which cast doubts on the accuracy of official figures on sea lice prevalance.  The programme also found evidence of the use of illegal pesticides to counteract strains of lice which are becoming resistant to approved chemicals.

In the BBC report, environment minister Stewart Stevenson admitted concerns that sea lice infestation reports were insufficiently detailed and were not available on an individual fish farm basis.  He also revealed that the Government is to consult on creating marine protected areas which could exclude fish farms in the run up to the new aquaculture bill.

This is hardly likely to appease the wild fish lobby in the immediate future, but it may just be a sign that the Government and its scientists are starting to acknowledge that they cannot sit on the fence on sea lice issue for much longer.

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