A noteworthy scientific paper which confirms impact of sea lice on sea trout has just been published in the prestigious Journal of Fish Biology, entitled “The influence of aquaculture unit proximity on the pattern of Lepeophtheirus salmonis [SEA LICE] infection of anadromous Salmo trutta [SEA TROUT] populations on the Isle of Skye, Scotland”.
The lead author is Isabel Moore from the Skye and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust. Her co-authors include Professor Colin Bean (University of Glasgow and Scottish Natural Heritage) and Professor Colin Adams (University of Glasgow) and Dr Matthew Newton (University of Glasgow and Atlantic Salmon Trust). In other words, there is very considerable academic credibility standing behind the paper. Its conclusion is unequivocal: “our data add to the empirical evidence that L. salmonis from farms can cause fatal infestations of wild S. trutta and highlight the importance of limiting L. salmonis abundance on farms to improve wild salmonid survival.”
Sceptics might say that this is just telling us or confirming the obvious. But what makes the paper’s conclusion(s) particularly significant and powerful is the fact that it was largely funded by Grieg Seafood Ltd, one of the main players in Scottish salmon farming. The industry can hardly now dismiss the findings on the premise that it has been funded by those with an environmental agenda. The study helps to debunk the myth (shamelessly peddled by the industry and its spokespersons) that there is no evidence of negative impacts of salmon farms on sea trout.
• By Andrew Graham-Stewart, Scotland Director