Sunday, 26 February 2017

Scandal of 45 Scottish Lochs Trashed by Pollution, The Herald, Scotland

I rarely just give you an undigested article on the global problems with fish farms. But this one startled even me and I am long enured to bad news in the fish farm/seafood industry.

See this Herald article:

This is a mainstream press article in a major paper from Scotland. Listen to this stinging indictment of the fish farm industry, and its use of chemicals and its pollution. Do note that if a fish farm ever tells you there is really not much sewage under their pens, tell them, nice try, that's like a steel mill CEO saying there is no steel on the ground, but overlooking the smoke stacks billowing out pollution and causing acid rain all across the continent.

The following is only part of the article, and the tables connected to it.

"Revealed: Scandal of 45 Scottish lochs trashed by pollution

AT least 45 lochs around Scotland’s coast have been contaminated by toxic pesticides from fish farms that can harm wildlife and human health, according to data released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

Levels of chemicals used to kill the sea lice that plague caged salmon have breached environmental safety limits more than a hundred times in the last 10 years. The chemicals have been discharged by 70 fish farms run by seven companies. 

The pollution has been condemned as a “toxic timebomb” by environmental campaigners, who are lodging a formal complaint with the European Commission. The fish farming industry, however, insists that it always tries to abide by the rules.

Sepa released a spreadsheet under freedom of information law showing the results of over 1,200 sampling operations at about 280 fish farms. It revealed that between 2006 and 2016 levels of anti-sea lice pesticides found in sediment 100 metres away from salmon cages exceeded environmental quality standards in 45 sea lochs and inshore waters. 

They included Loch Linnhe, Loch Kishorn, Loch Nevis, Loch Ewe, Loch Torridon and ten others in the Highland region. There were 11 contaminated lochs and waters in Argyll and Bute, including Loch Fyne, Loch Creran, the Firth of Lorn, and the sounds of Mull, Jura and Gigha.

Another 11 voes and firths around the Shetland islands were polluted, as were seven in the Western isles and Lamlash Bay in North Ayrshire (see table). The companies named as responsible included Marine Harvest, Scottish Sea Farms, The Scottish Salmon Company and Grieg Seafood Shetland.

The main pesticide detected was emamectin benzoate. According to Sepa, it “is toxic to birds, mammals, fish and other aquatic organisms, particularly those living on the sea bed”.

Of its effect on human health, Sepa said: “Exposure to emamectin benzoate may cause irritation of the respiratory tract, eyes and skin. Animal studies suggest that exposure to emamectin benzoate may also cause tremors.”

Another fish farm pesticide that breached environmental quality standards in lochs was teflubenzuron. It can harm shrimps, crabs and lobsters, and may affect the human liver.

Vyvyan Howard, an emeritus professor of toxicology at Ulster University and a former government adviser on pesticides, was worried about the possible impact on health. “The main concern would be the long-term, low-dose effects,” he told the Sunday Herald. “The risk is ill-defined, and it should be better defined, particularly if there are these inadvertent releases.”

Dr Richard Luxmoore, senior nature conservation adviser to The National Trust for Scotland, warned that emamectin was a neurotoxin that could kill invertebrates and was “highly toxic” to birds and mammals. “The environmental standards have been put there for a good reason,” he said.

“It is highly worrying that they have been breached so many times. This is yet more evidence that the chemical warfare waged by fish farms against sea lice has essentially been lost and the application of toxins to kill them is spiralling out of control.” 

Dr Sam Collin from the Scottish Wildlife Trust agreed emamectin was a major concern. “It’s worrying that there have been so many breaches of the standards for its use,” he said.

“This particular chemical stays in the marine environment for a long time and is capable of causing harm to a wide variety of sea life, in particular invertebrates such as shellfish.”

Sepa’s spreadsheet was obtained by the anti-fish farming campaigner Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture. “Sepa is permitting salmon farmers across Scotland to pollute with impunity," he said.

“Breaches of environmental standards for chemical pollution under salmon farms are now becoming standard practice as Sepa shamefully turns a blind eye.”

Staniford added: “Toxic chemicals from salmon farms have flooded Scottish lochs for over three decades contaminating shellfish and the seabed. Scottish salmon farming is a toxic time-bomb.”

Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, which represents anglers, is referring the emamectin breaches to the European Commission in the belief that they contravene environmental law. “It appears that Sepa has been looking the other way and allowing excessive treatment chemicals to be used, which will have damaged the ecology of the sea lochs,” said the group’s Guy Linley-Adams.

“Sepa must use its statutory powers to order a reduction in the number of farmed fish allowed in the cages to a level at which the fish-farmers can control sea lice and, at the same time, stay within their pollution control licences.”

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, which represents fish farming companies, referred inquires to Sepa. “Our members at all times endeavour to operate within the terms of their consents,” said the organisation’s chief executive Scott Landsburgh."

Is it just me or do fish farms around the world all use the same spin? As in: "we do our best to comply with the rules." In this case, they have been doing their best and polluting the Scotland ocean, some 45 lochs, for a decade. They have exceeded the limits more than 100 times. Is this doing their best? You answer that.                                               

No comments:

Post a Comment