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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK


Double blow for Scottish aquaculture

The Salmon Growers Association will wind down this year

Aquaculture in Scotland is reeling from two new developments which are the latest of a series of blows to the industry.

The ban on scallop fishing off the West Coast has been extended by the government following new tests, prompting a warning that scallop farmers and fishermen may face ruin.

And in a separate development, the organisation representing fish farmers is to be wrapped up by the end of the year.

The Scottish Executive extended the ban on scallop fishing, saying a build-up of shellfish toxins could pose a risk to consumers.

[ image: The ban on scallop fishing has been extended]
The ban on scallop fishing has been extended
The initial ban on scallop fishing was introduced on 9 July across 8,000 square miles of Scottish waters between the Outer Hebrides and the West Coast as far south as Islay.

It has now been extended to cover an area between Griminish Point on North Uist and Gallan Head on Lewis.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care, Iain Gray, said the action was necessary to prevent contaminated shellfish from entering the food chain.

He said monitoring of the areas would continue until the toxin levels fell below the legal limit.

The toxin causes vomiting, headaches and memory loss and, at its worst, it can cause irreversible brain damage.

Douglas Macleod of the Scottish Shellfish Growers Association warned the latest ban will see more scallop farmers facing ruin.

Livelihoods 'lost'

He said: "The individual farmers have totally lost their livelihood. Basically their operation, their source of income, has been shut down overnight. It is not being given a month's notice, a month's redundancy - you are being fired overnight."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Salmon Growers Association has announced it will be wound down after 17 years, probably by November.

The move follows a period which has seen income drop by almost £1m and membership plummet.

Chief executive William Crowe says it is not a crisis but "a vertical re-organisation" of representation in the industry, with more processors being better represented in the shake-up.

But he concedes his own organisation has lost nearly £1m as the industry contracted under the impact of the disease ISA, which has closed many farms. Membership has also dropped from over 100 to just 25.

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