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Petition calls for halt on salmon farm expansion

A PETITION has been launched by campaigners calling for a halt on the expansion of Scotland’s salmon farm industry until concerns over welfare and the environment have been addressed.

Environmental group OneKind has teamed up with the Scottish Salmon Think-Tank, Save Seil Sound and the Salmon Aquaculture Reform Network Scotland for the petition.

So far over 2,500 people have put their signature forward.

Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) general manager Davie Sandison said the group was aware of the petition, but did not have any comment to make.

The petition says that “disease, lice infestations and mass mortality are rife on many of these [Scotland’s] farms, yet despite this, the industry, with support from the Scottish Government is committed to doubling the salmon farming industry by 2030”.

The Scottish Parliament’s environment committee said earlier this year that there may be “irrecoverable damage to the environment” if the impact of salmon farming isn’t addressed before the industry expands further.

The SSPO have begun releasing mortality rates on a farm-by-farm basis, with figures showing that around two-thirds of active salmon farms have 99 per cent survival rates.

Chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said earlier this month that the health and welfare of salmon is “hugely important to salmon farmers”.

Scottish Greens’ Highlands and Islands list MSP John Finnie, whose party has been vocal on salmon farm concerns, said independent assessments should be carried out on the industry.

“The government claims it has ‘issues of concern’ about salmon farming in Scotland and it should therefore put a moratorium in place to halt expansion until the many environmental concerns can be independently assessed,” he said.

“If [rural economy secretary] Fergus Ewing cares about preventing marine pollution, then he’ll listen to Greens and the many others who are calling for a moratorium.”