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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 13:21 GMT
More aid for salmon farmers

Freshly caught salmon The industry says it has lost 37m because of ISA

A new package of measures to help Scotland's devastated salmon farmers has been announced by the Scottish Executive.

Tight controls imposed to try to stamp out salmon anaemia (ISA) are being relaxed, allowing the resumption of sales of non-infected fish.

The industry, which says its lost 37m and 180 jobs since the outbreak of ISA, has been urging the Scottish Executive to provide further financial assistance.

Industry call for review

A pledge of 9m compensation had already been made, but salmon farmers wanted a review of measures designed to manage the outbreaks of the virus and more cash to help the industry recover from the disaster.

Fish farm workers Nearly 200 jobs have been lost
Fisheries Minister John Home Robertson said: "At present we have 11 confirmed and 24 suspect sites - roughly 10% of the total number of fish farms.

"More work clearly needs to be done. MAFF have agreed to carry out tests in wild fish south of the border.

"More intensive wild fish surveillance will be conducted in Scotland in the new year and further work on seeking to verify the possible presence of ISA in freshwater is being carried out by the Fisheries Research Services Agency in Aberdeen.

"We have carried out a comprehensive review of our current controls in the light of new circumstances.

ISA measures
"Infected" and "surveillance" zones will be created
More research on freshwater farms
Fallowing period reduced from six to three months on suspect farms if appropriate
Surveillance on wild fish intensified and extended to England and Wales
"Central to that review has been the conviction, shared by the industry, that ISA is a pernicious disease and that everything possible should be done to prevent the disease and to stamp it out where it occurs."

Infectious salmon anaemia or ISA causes internal bleeding and has devastated stocks in other countries.

The viral disease was first found in Norway in the mid-1980s and has also appeared in Canada.

Meanwhile, fishermen on the west coast of Lewis have been licensed to use nets to catch around 20,000 farmed salmon which have escaped.

The fish, which are thought to be fully grown, got out when their cages on a farm owned the Western Isles Seafood Company were damaged by bad weather.

High risk zone

Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth Scotland have criticised the Scottish Executive over the incident at Loch Roag at the beginning of December.

Director Kevin Dunion said it was bad enough that 20,000 salmon had escaped from captivity, but it was even more alarming that that it had taken 10 days for the news to leak out.

The loch is a high-risk zone for infectious salmon anaemia.

An executive spokeswoman said the farm itself had no sign of the virus so the risk of other fish being contaminated by the escape was low.

She said the company involved had notified the executive as soon as they were aware of the incident and was taking commendable action by emptying all remaining cages.

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See also:
06 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Salmon farmers win compensation
18 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Fish groups in 'Save our salmon' case
04 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Lethal fish infection spreads
19 Aug 99 |  Scotland
Salmon farming restrictions lifted
09 Aug 99 |  Scotland
Fish farming 'damaging' wild stocks
15 Jul 99 |  The Company File
Dutch firm nets salmon producer

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