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Environment correspondent Louise Batchelor
"Friends of the Earth has studied the salmon industry for 10 years"
 real 56k

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Salmon farming under fire
Fish farming has increased over the past decade
A report into salmon farming in Scotland has severely criticised the industry.

The study by Friends of the Earth Scotland claims that, while pollution and other environmental problems have been growing, the number of jobs in salmon production has fallen.

The environment group is demanding reforms which it believes will safeguard the 260m industry's long term future.

Scottish Quality Salmon said the research is ill-informed since many of the reforms called for are already underway.

Fish farm workers
There are fewer people employed in the industry
According to the report, The One That Got Away, the number of jobs in salmon production has declined from 1,491 in 1989 to 1,304 by 1999.

However, the number of salmon farm chemical licences issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has risen from 49 in 1998 to 474 last year.

It claims the estimated quantity of waste discharged from Scottish fish farms last year was equivalent to almost twice the annual sewage discharged by the entire population of Scotland.

FoE chief executive Kevin Dunion said the farming industry had polluted the marine environment and affected wild salmon stocks and shell fisheries.

He said: "The report is a catalogue of illegal use of chemicals, emissions and effluent, mass escapes and mortalities of fish far beyond anything imagined when the industry was first established."

Mr Dunion added: "The economic benefit to the Highlands and Islands is not discounted but is put into context.

Other sectors hit

"There are no more jobs in salmon production now than there were 10 years ago even though output has increased five-fold."

He said the benefits of the expanding salmon industry had been offset by the unquantified loss of economic returns from angling and shellfish interests.

Brian Simpson, chief executive of Scottish Quality Salmon, said: "If there was pollution the salmon itself would not exist. Salmon needs clean, fresh water.

"That is why we have the highest standards set by our industry, audited by our industry to ensure that first of all the environment is pristine - vitally important for quality salmon production. It is in both our interests that we have this.

"I haven't seen the science, they haven't consulted us with the report.

Lochs 'pristine'

"All I'm saying is our lochs are pristine clean. Our waters are clean. There are proper systems in place.

"There are proper checks. We adhere to the Scottish Environmental Protection agency who are the official government body who monitor us."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said it had not seen a copy of the report and it was therefore not appropriate to comment.

However, he added: "The Scottish Executive is committed to supporting a sustainable aquaculture industry which maintains the highest possible environmental standards."

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