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Mass deaths: nine million fish killed by diseases at Scottish Salmon farms

The latest accessible report on the Scottish Government’s website on the mortality rate of Salmon shows a ridiculous 9.3 million dead fish as of March 2019, with 2017 & 2018 being the years with the most number of deaths. Most of these losses are due to diseases such as salmon gill pox virus, amoebic gill disease, proliferative gill disease, cardiomyopathy syndrome, pancreas disease, anaemia and diseases caused by fungus. But diseases weren’t the only cause; treatment loss, algal bloom, oxygen shortages, aggressive jellyfish and something as trivial as warm water are all included in the list of Salmon killers. As is evident from the data on the public spreadsheet, the mortality rate has risen 4 times between 2002 and 2017, with the actual tonnage of dead fish being 5 times as high. Surprisingly enough, the total reported deaths went down by a million in 2018, the mortalities increased.

Cooke Aquaculture, swiss-owned Scottish Salmon Company as well as the Norwegian companies Mowi & Scottish Sea Farms are the ones that have suffered the most in terms of total dead fish, with the numbers being 2.5 million for the first two and 1.7 & 1.2 million respectively for the last two.

In light of these dire statistics, various animal welfare agencies and industry critics are calling out the Scottish Government on it's apparent inability to take action against this blatant disregard for any sort of regulations or standards governing the industry whatsoever. They are demanding blocks on new fish farms or at least on those farms with excessively high mortality rates, as well as stricter inspections along with monetary repercussions in case of any violations.

The Fish Farming industry is a big part of the Scottish economy, contributing £620 million a year. Although this definitely does not justify the negligence in regulatory measures on the part of the government, it surely gives us an idea as to why they may be so inclined. The Farmed Fish Health Framework initiative is one of the steps taken by the government to help in the investigation into and reduction of spiking mortality rates.

Keeping in mind that these deaths were voluntarily reported to the government for the purpose of keeping and publishing records, it is only natural that the people who have been most affected by this extreme upheaval of the death rate have something to say about it. The Fish Farming Industry has reportedly acknowledged the existence of problems within the industry but they are of the stance that these issues are being addressed to the best of their abilities. It takes a huge amount of investment in terms of time, money and thought to be able to successfully reap the benefits of this industry and, to quote the Chief Executive of the SSPO (Scotland Salmon Producers Organization) Julie Hesketh-Laird, “Scottish salmon farmers are working collaboratively, investing significantly to improve salmon health and welfare, and to overcome the complex challenges that can lead to such losses.”

Mass deaths: nine million fish killed by diseases at Scottish Salmon farms Mass deaths: nine million fish killed by diseases at Scottish Salmon farms Reviewed by Joe on May 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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