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Illegal chemical may have killed salmon

THOUSANDS of farmed fish that died in a cage belonging to Hoganess Salmon, in Shetland, may have been treated with a chemical not approved for use by the industry.

Marine Farms A/S, the Norwegian company that owns Lakeland Group, the operator of the Hoganess site, said over the weekend that harvesting had been suspended at all its cages in the area pending an inquiry.

Last week it emerged that the Scottish SPCA was leading an investigation into “an alleged fish poisoning” incident in which around 6,000 farmed salmon died at the fish farm, based at Burrastow, near Walls.

In a statement issued to the Oslo Stock Exchange, Marine Farm has said that an illegal substance may have been responsible for the deaths that followed “a routine sea lice treatment”.

The statement said: “The company is working closely with the authorities to reassure them that none of the fish from this site have entered the food chain after the incident.

“Lakeland has hired a team of external experts to carry out an internal investigation.

“So far, this investigation has uncovered that during the treatment, which protects salmon from a parasite which affects wild and farmed fish, lice products not approved for salmon may have been used.

“Needless to say, the use of such products will be in conflict with the company’s systems and public regulations. The focus of the investigation will be to uncover all facts in the incident and to prevent this from happening again.

“Clearly the possibility of improper use of compounds has indicated a failing in the Company systems and the priority is to address this effectively and as quickly as possible.

“Lakeland considers this as a very serious matter and has not harvested fish from the site in question since the incident. The Company will not harvest or move fish from that site until a satisfactory outcome has been reached.”

Marine Farm added that it will continue to work closely with the Scottish Environmental and Protection Agency (SEPA), the animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local environmental health officers.

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