Pollution and health inspections for hundreds of fish farms have been halted and silenced by the Scottish government, following threats of legal action by the salmon farming industry. And what’s even more upsetting than the ugly schoolyard tactics taken by the industry is how quickly and willingly the government ministers caved to the pressure.
This past April, Marine Scotland, the government agency responsible for managing Scotland’s seas, abruptly stopped critical inspections of salmon cages for sea lice and to ensure that farms are not breaking the rules for treating sea lice. Rampant infestations of sea lice threaten the health of wild salmon populations, and outbreaks within fish farms are often treated with heavy doses of toxic pesticides. In the absence of government involvement, concerns have grown that sea lice populations have grown and pesticide use has been allowed to flourish.
The unprecedented legal threat from the industry and the disappointing acquiescence by the Scottish government is a troubling indication that corporate profit threatens to take precedent over the health and safety of our food system. In order to restore public trust and show that proper management of Scotland's seas cannot be so easily manipulated, Marine Scotland must stand up to industry pressure and insist that the sea lice audits resume. The results of those audits should be published for the public, without requiring approval from the salmon farming companies.
Photo credit: Jesús Goritti