Groups call for relocation of badly sited salmon farms

SCOTLAND’S wild salmon interests have welcomed what they describe as a “ground-breaking declaration” allegedly made by a major shareholder of Marine Harvest, that no salmon farms should be located within any sea lochs into which salmon rivers discharge.

According to the organisations - which include the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards, the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) - John Fredriksen made the comments in an interview published in Norwegian newspaper Altaposten.

They claim he said: “I am concerned about the future for wild salmon. Fish farming should not be allowed in fjords with salmon rivers…The fish farming industry should be allowed to operate in fjords, but not where wild salmon are present in local rivers”.

Mr Fredriksen is a shipping tycoon who entered the fish farming industry in 2005 with the purchase of Pan Fish. He then acquired Fjord Seafood, Marine Harvest and Stolt Seafood. These businesses were subsequently merged to become the current Marine Harvest. Mr Frederiksen holds 30 per cent of Marine Harvest’s shares. According to Forbes, he ranked 114 among the world’s richest people in 2006.

Andrew Wallace, Director of the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards and Policy Director of the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, commented: “This statement from one of the most influential players in the salmon farming industry confirms what many of us have been telling the industry and its regulators for so many years and which the evidence now supports – namely, that some salmon farming may be located in sites which are incompatible with the sustainable management of healthy populations of wild salmon and sea trout. The challenge now is to identify these sensitive sites and to get them moved”.

Roger Brook, chairman of the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), added: “It is refreshing to hear such an unequivocal acknowledgment from one of the most important figures within salmon farming that the great majority of the marine farms are inappropriately located. We now eagerly await details of the industry’s plans to relocate the farms and indeed confirmation that the Executive is willing to support and facilitate such moves”.

Seymour Monro, Executive Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, noted: “It is a disaster that fish farms were ever sited on wild fish migration routes – as we now know to the cost of wild fish populations on the west coast. It is important that the Scottish Executive and the industry redouble their efforts to relocate badly sited farms and that the industry continues to work on reducing sea lice numbers and on minimising the numbers of escapes. Without these measures, all our efforts to restore fish to the west coast rivers are a waste of time. We will continue our efforts towards these goals within the forum of the Tripartite Working Group”.

Paul Knight, Director of the Salmon and Trout Association, said: “For the past 15 years we have been saying that salmon farms should not be sited in sea lochs with salmon rivers. Scotland’s salmon farming industry now needs to announce exactly when the mass relocation of farms will begin and when it will be completed. We look forward to Marine Harvest leading the way”. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.

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