Salmon sector response to Scottish Government’s plans for aquaculture legislation

Today the Scottish government announced plans to introduce legislation to make the weekly reporting of sea lice data statutory, one week in arrears. Legislation will be introduced in 2020 after a full public consultation.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said: “The Scottish salmon sector has for some time led on ensuring greater transparency and the speedier publication of data.

“The SSPO has been voluntarily publishing lice data since 2013 and since 2018 reporting has been on a farm by farm basis. We are pleased the Scottish government’s announcements build on this. We welcome the Minister’s commitment to public consultation and look forward to engaging fully in it to help ensure that the data collected is used effectively so the new system can work as well as possible.

“We would expect everyone with an interest in wild as well as farmed salmon and sea lice to work to the same high levels of transparency and ensure data is accurately collected and quickly reported. Building trust in the regulatory system is important.”

The Scottish Government also announced plans to tighten the so-called ‘trigger levels’ for the reporting and taking action against sea lice. The current levels are: three lice per fish for reporting and eight for enforcement action to be taken. These will be tightened to two for reporting and six for action, in the short term, with a possible move to two and four a year later. This is in line with the SSPO’s earlier calls to the Scottish government to tighten the levels.

Ms Hesketh-Laird said: “The Scottish salmon sector welcomes this move to tighter regulation. It is in everyone’s interests to operate to the lowest lice levels possible. This follows the recent advances the sector has made in controlling lice with non-medicinal means, measures which have brought lice levels down to their lowest level for six years.”