Read press release and media backgrounder in full online here
Exclusive information obtained via FOI from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) reveals how Scottish salmon farms are polluting Scotland's pristine marine environment with toxic chemicals .
The Sunday Herald reported on their front page today:
"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," reported award-winning journalist Rob Edwards. "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".
Dr Richard Luxmoore, senior nature conservation adviser to The National Trust for Scotland, told The Sunday Herald. “The environmental standards have been put there for a good reason. 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 told The Sunday Herald: “It’s worrying that there have been so many breaches of the standards for its use. 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 is permitting salmon farmers across Scotland to pollute with impunity," said Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture. "Breaches of environmental standards for chemical pollution under salmon farms are now becoming standard practice as SEPA shamefully turns a blind eye. The alarming rise in Emamectin use is now becoming a public health issue with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate reporting at least six cases of Emamectin contamination of farmed salmon since 2005. The safest way to avoid chemical contamination is to boycott farmed salmon. Just say no to drugs, say no to Scottish salmon."
The data shows over 130 breaches of SEPA's Environmental Quality Standards for the toxic chemicals Emamectin benzoate and Teflubenzuron since 2001 . The worst contamination (measured in terms of a breach of the EQS) was Marine Harvest's salmon farm in Loch Shell, Harris, which breached the EQS for Teflubenzuron by a staggering 527 times in January 2012 and Loch Duart's Badcall salmon farm in Eddrachillis Bay, Highland, which breached the EQS for Teflubenzuron by a staggering 500 times in December 2012.
Scottish Sea Farms breached the EQS for Teflubenzuron at their Teisti Geo in Clift Sound, Shetland, by 385 times in 2013. In 2015, the use of Teflubenzuron was "withdrawn from the market after scientists found that that it can leak into lochs and kill crabs, shrimps and lobsters".
In terms of breaches of the EQS for Emamectin benzoate the worst salmon farm was Spelve A (Balure) operated by Scottish Sea Farms on the Isle of Mull which breached the EQS by 15 times in June 2016. Marine Harvest's salmon farm at Duich in Loch Duich (a Special Area of Conservation) breached the EQS by 8 times in February 2016.
The Sunday Herald reported today that the following 45 lochs were contaminated:
Highland: Inner Sound, Loch a Chairn Bhain, Loch Alsh, Loch Bracadale, Loch Broom, Loch Duich, Loch Ewe, Loch Kishorn, Loch Laxford, Loch Nevis, Loch Torridon, Sound of Raasay
Argyll & Bute: Firth of Lorn, Kilbrannan Sound, Loch Craignish, Loch Creran, Loch Fyne, Loch Spelve, Loch Tuath, Shuna Sound, Sound of Gigha, Sound of Jura, Sound of Mull,
Shetland: Cat Firth, Clift Sound, Clousta Voe, Colla Firth, Dury Voe, Lax Firth, Off Lunnaness, Olnafirth, Ronas Voe, Swarbacks Minn, The Deeps
Outer Hebrides: East Loch Tarbert, Loch Boisdale, Loch Erisort, Loch Roag, Loch Seaforth, Loch Skipport
North Ayrshire: Lamlash Bay
Last month, The Sunday Times revealed that the use of toxic chemicals on Scottish salmon farms had risen by 1000% in the last decade. Emamectin benzoate use increased six-fold between 2002 and 2015 (12 kg in 2002 compared to 71 kg in 2015) with salmon farms operated by Scottish Sea Farms and Marine Harvest dominating the Top 20 uses of Emamectin benzoate .
"Toxic chemicals from salmon farms have flooded Scottish lochs for over three decades contaminating shellfish and the seabed," continued Staniford. "Scotland's pristine marine ecosystems are being corroded by the chemical wastes from salmon farms which now discharge the sewage equivalent of 17.8 million people - that's over three times the population of Scotland. Scottish salmon farming is a toxic time-bomb which is certain to explode if the Government continues to support a doubling of aquaculture by 2030."
A scientific paper published in Environmental Science & Technology in October 2016 revealed how Emamectin benzoate "may cause collateral damage" in shellfish such as lobsters (read more via "Anti-sea lice drugs may pose hazard to non-target crustaceans" and Scientific Backgrounder: Ecotoxicity & Chemicla Resistance).
According to SEPA's 'Scottish Pollutant Release Inventory', Emamectin benzoate "is a pesticide which works by interfering with nerve impulses in the body" and "exposure to Emamectin benzoate may also cause tremors".
The UK's Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VDM) has reported Emamectin contamination of farmed salmon on numerous occasions in the last decade . In December 2016, the VMD reported:
GAAIA has asked for a review of the VMD's refusal to name the companies involved. In 2012, GAAIA revealed other cases of Emamectin contamination of farmed salmon - including:
2012 - Scottish Salmon Company, Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran, North Ayrshire
2010 - Lakeland Marine, Bagh Dail Nan Cean, Loch Melfort, Argyll & Bute
2009 - Skelda Salmon, Sian Bay in Setter Voe, Shetland
2006 - Scottish Sea Farms, Hoy, Orkney
2005 - Marine Harvest, Loch Shell, Outer Hebrides
Read the FOI documents disclosed by the Scottish Government in 2012 online here and see Note  for more details.
Today (26 February), GAAIA also published other documents obtained from SEPA via FOI which revealed:
- almost a fifth (18%) of marine salmon farms were classified by SEPA as failing and responsible for "at least one significant breach"
- Norwegian-owned Marine Harvest is the worst operator with 13 "failing" salmon farms in 2015 (that's 27% of the 49 marine salmon farms it operates)
- 2015 is the worst year with 51 marine salmon farms rated as "poor" (up from 37 in 2014)
- The 16 worst salmon farms included four sites operated by Cooke Aquaculture, four by the Scottish Salmon Company, three by Grieg Seafood, three by Marine Harvest, one by Scottish Seafarms and one by Wester Ross Fisheries
Read press release and media backgrounder via "Failing Fish Farms - 18% rated "poor" by SEPA in 2015"
GAAIA is co-ordinating a protest in Edinburgh on 16 March outside a conference "celebrating" 25 years of the "international success" of "sustainable" salmon. For more details read: "Celebrate" 25 years of "international success of Scottish salmon"?!.
For more background read:
Download press release and media backgrounder as a PDF online here
Read more news via:
- Press Release: "Failing Fish Farms - 18% rated "poor" by SEPA in 2015"
- Front Page of Sunday Herald: "Revealed: Scandal of 45 Lochs Trashed by Pollution"
- "Celebrate" 25 years of "international success of Scottish salmon"?!
- Press Release: "Antibiotic-ridden Scottish salmon"
- Press & Journal: "Fish 'hooked on chemicals'"
- Dounie Bay Swims Against the Tide of Salmon Farming
- Compassion in World Farming: "Scottish salmon farms pour chemicals on parasites"
- Front page of Norwegian newspaper: "Don Staniford has declared war against Norwegian salmon farming"
- "Peroxide use goes through the roof"/"Marine Harvest 'concerned'"
- "The Briton who has declared war on Norwegian fish farming" (Bergens Tidende)
Read more documents obtained via FOI from SEPA on 1 March 2017: