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Salmon suspended from quality scheme

LAKELAND, the company that owns Hoganess Salmon, on Shetland’s west side, has suspended the fish farm from the industry’s certification schemes.

Animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA is currently leading an investigation into suspected poisoning of 6,000 farmed salmon that died on 15 August.

This week the company, which is owned by Norwegian firm Marine Farms, admitted to the Oslo stock exchange that illegal chemicals may have been used at the fish farm, based at Burrastow, near Walls.

Now the company has removed Hoganess Salmon from the food quality certification schemes operated by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, Scottish Quality Salmon and Shetland Aquaculture.

The organisations said they were “deeply shocked at the severity of the allegations” that had been made, but insisted they remained no more than speculation.

In a joint statement they said: “The SSPO and Shetland Aquaculture are aware that investigations are currently underway by a number of statutory agencies in connection with Hoganess Salmon in Shetland.

“While the SSPO and Shetland Aquaculture are deeply shocked at the severity of the allegations unfolding, we recognise that the speculation is precisely that and it is important to allow the investigating authorities to carry out their work and report in due course. The SSPO and Shetland Aquaculture have urged the company to assist the investigating agencies fully.

“For the time being, until the next steps become clear, the organisations have accepted the company’s offer for the sites under investigation to be suspended from existing certification schemes operated by the SSPO, Scottish Quality Salmon and Shetland Aquaculture.”

SSPO chief executive Scott Landsburgh described the step as “a precautionary measure”. He said: “You guarantee a certain quality through a certification scheme. We are not saying they can’t do that, but at the same time they want to be as cautious as possible.”

Hoganess Salmon grows about 3,000 tonnes of salmon over an 18 month cycle.

Meanwhile the English animal welfare charity RSPCA has pointed out that Lakeland’s marine operations have never been certified under its Freedom Foods brand.

Lakeland carries the Freedom Foods badge on its website, but an RSPCA spokeswoman said this only applied to their freshwater activities and they would be speaking to the company to ensure this was clarified.