The Salmon Farm Monitor
An rud bhios na do bhrςin, cha bhi e na do thiomhnadh
“That which you have wasted will not be there for future generations”


Mass fish farm mortalities and escapes
threaten the survival of wild salmon

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE – 1st August 2003

Figures obtained by the Salmon Farm Protest Group from the Scottish Executive show that in the past five years over 4 million farm salmon have died in captivity, and that over 1 million farm salmon and trout have escaped from farms in Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Skye, Highland, Argyll, Strathclyde, Borders and Central Scotland.

  • Since 1998 seventy-seven incidents have been reported involving the escape of more than one million farm salmon and trout from their cages.
  • Since 1999 more than 4.4 million farm salmon have died in their cages in ninety separate incidents, 48% of which occurred in the Shetland Isles. This figure includes 500,000 in Highland Region in 2001 and 750,000 in the Western Isles in 2002.
  • Since March 2002 more than 200,000 farm salmon and trout have escaped from cages.
  • In 2002, 88% of escapee salmon came from sites affected by Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis; a viral infection that escapee farm salmon can pass to healthy wild salmon, characterised by abdominal distension and a mucus-filled digestive tube empty of food.
  • In the period 1999/2000 to 2001/2002 mass mortality incidents increased more than six-fold (twelve to seventy-eight), whilst in the same period fish deaths increased eighteen-fold, from 244,680 to 4.16 million.

Neither is Scotland alone: in 2002 upwards of 2 million farm salmon escaped from cages in Chile, Norway, Faroe, Ireland, Canada, United States and Tasmania. Nearly 300,000 farm salmon and trout have escaped from Norwegian farms so far this year. In Ireland, in July, 400,000 farm salmon died in their cages. On the Pacific coast of North America scientists have found escaped farmed Atlantic salmon in a tributary of the Chehalis River, home to wild Coho salmon.

Bruce Sandison, Chairman of the Salmon Farm Protest Group, said:

“These figures show the reality behind an industry that claims that its farmed fish come from clean, unpolluted waters. These are the figures that the salmon farmers would prefer to keep hidden from consumers. To prevent further damage to wild fish and to the environment from fish farm disease and pollution this industry must be immediately brought ashore and conducted in land based closed-containment systems.”

For further information contact Don Staniford on 00 44 7880 716082

See also: www.salmonfarmmonitor.org

Hysbackie, Tongue, by Lairg, Sutherland 1V27 4XJ, Scotland
Tel: 01847 611274; Fax: 01847 611262; email bruce@hysbackie.freeserve.co.uk
A company registered in Scotland No.240223

Notes to Editors:

[1] Mass escapes:

Information provided by the Scottish Executive on 23rd June 2003 (Letter from the Paul Shave – Tel: 0131 244 6172)

Fish Escapes from March 2002 (categorised by region, numbers of fish, species and cause):

Western Isles: 3,000 – salmon (seal predation)
Orkney: 20,000 – salmon (snapped moorings)
Highland: 2,400 – rainbow trout (vandalism to nets)
Western Isles: 12,000 – salmon (loose net)
Western Isles: 19,750 – salmon (damaged net)
Shetland: 35,335 – salmon (weather)
Highland: 8,147 – salmon (hole in net – caught on moorings)
Central: unknown – trout (bird predation)
Western Isles: 2,659 – salmon (facility problem)
Highland: 36 – salmon (hole in net)
Highland: 58 – salmon (seal damage to net)
Shetland: 13,500 – salmon (torn net)
Borders: 80,000 – trout (weather)

Total: 196,885 (plus one “unknown” – two incidents involving 11,000 and 16,000 fish from Marine Harvest Scotland’s Loch Ewe sites in April 2003 do not appear on this list)

Previous information supplied by the Scottish Executive on escapes and disease:

In response to a PQ from Robin Harper MSP on 25th September 2002:
1998: 4 incidents (2 from IPN affected farms)
1999: 16 incidents (7 from IPN affected farms)
2000: 22 incidents (10 from IPN affected farms)
2001: 14 incidents (2 from IPN affected farms)
2002 (up to 25th September): 8 (7 from IPN affected farms)

In reply to questions from Don Staniford, 22nd May 2000:

1998: 95,000 salmon (6 incidents)
1999: 255,000 salmon (15 incidents)
2000 (up to 22nd May): 395,000 salmon (10 incidents)

In reply to questions from Don Staniford, 11th January 2000:

Between August 1997 and January 2000:

Highland: 150,000 fish (9 incidents)
Argyll and Bute: 36,000 fish (2 incidents)
Western Isles: 31,000 fish (3 incidents)
Shetland: 120,000 fish (3 incidents)
Perth and Kinross: 16,500 fish (3 incidents)

[2] Mass mortalities:

“Moving on to your questions about algal bloom and jellyfish incidences, there is no legislative requirement for the Executive to monitor fish mortalities from these causes and therefore the information we have is by no means comprehensive. However, I am attaching the data we have for the period 1999-2002. The ‘plankton’ which is listed as the cause was often not identified and in some cases ‘plankton’ indicates a combination of plankton and jellyfish” (Letter from the Scottish Executive’s Paul Shave – Tel: 0131 244 6172 – dated 23rd June 2003)

In summary:

Between 1999 and 2002:

4.4 million fish died in 90 incidents in Scotland
48% of incidents were in Shetland, 26% in the Western Isles, 14% in Highland, 7% in Orkney, 2% in Strathclyde, 2% in Argyll and 1% in Skye
50% of deaths were caused by “algal blooms”, 45% by “jellyfish” and 5% by “plankton”
The average size of incident rose from 1,170 in 2000 to 44,675 in 2001 to 69,956 dead fish in 2002
The largest fish kills were 750,000 in Western Isles in 2002, 500,000 in Highland in 2001 and 300,000 in Shetland in 2001

If you compare the period 1999-2000 and the period 2001-2002:

Mass mortality incidents increased over six-fold (12 to 78)
Deaths increased 18-fold (244,680 to 4.16 million)

Specific information:

[Information supplied by the Scottish Executive on 23rd June 2003 broken down via ‘Region’, ‘Numbers of Fish’ and ‘Cause’ – no information given as to specific date, specific location or the company concerned]

1999: 8 incidents involving 240,000 dead fish

Western Isles: 20,000 – Plankton
Western Isles: 39,000 - Plankton
Western Isles: 12,000 - Plankton
Western Isles: 40,000 - Plankton
Western Isles: 40,000 - Plankton
Shetland: 20,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 9,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 60,000 – Jellyfish

2000: 4 incidents involving 4,680 dead fish

Orkney: 1,400 – Algal
Shetland: 1,700 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 1,250 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 330 – Jellyfish

2001: 51 incidents involving 2,278,400 dead fish

Shetland: 550 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 14,500 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 23,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 2,300 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 27,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 9,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 400 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 210,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 30,000 – Algal Bloom
Highland: 20,000 – Algal Bloom
Highland: 5,000 – Algal Bloom
Highland: 1,000 – Algal Bloom
Highland: 8,000 – Algal Bloom
Strathclyde: 300 – Algal Bloom
Strathclyde: 10,000 – Algal Bloom
Orkney: 600 – Algal Bloom
Orkney: 500 – Algal Bloom
Orkney: 250 – Algal Bloom
Orkney: 1,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 1,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 35,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 12,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 22,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 46,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 60,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 85,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 100,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 50,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 30,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 600 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 400 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 400 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 2,600 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 50,000 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 50,000 – Algal Bloom
Western Isles: 3,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 7,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 100,000 – Algal Bloom
Highland: 100,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 100,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 100,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 4,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 65,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 500,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 1,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 12,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 60,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 400 – Algal Bloom
Shetland: 4,000 – Algal Bloom
Western Isles: 25,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 15,000 – Jellyfish

2002: 27 incidents involving 1,888,800 dead fish

Shetland: 25,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 25,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 176,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 67,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 260,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 10,000 – Algal Bloom
Western Isles: 150,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 500 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 600 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 500 – Jellyfish
Argyll: 2,000 – Jellyfish
Argyll: 200 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 750,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 160,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 88,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 21,000 – Jellyfish
Highland: 55,000 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 2,000 – Jellyfish
Orkney: 500 – Jellyfish
Western Isles: 31,000 – Jellyfish
Shetland: 1,000 – Algal bloom
Shetland: 10,000 – Algal bloom
Shetland: 6,000 – Algal bloom
Shetland: 5,000 – Algal bloom
Shetland: 10,000 – Algal bloom
Western Isles: 31,000 – Jellyfish
Skye: 1,500 – Jellyfish