Earlier this week, news broke, highlighting a parasitic sea lice outbreak in one of Scotland’s most historic salmon runs. The outbreak is being attributed to several salmon farms in the Hebridean region. It is destroying runs of Blackwater salmon, as the sea lice devour salmon flesh. Salmon researchers and interest groups have advocated against salmon farms for years because they know commercial salmon farms can increase the spread of aquatic diseases and negatively affect wild salmon populations. This criticism, or theory, was overwhelmingly obvious in Scotland.

Photo Courtesy of Corin Smith

The salmon farms knew about the outbreaks and actively removed the dead, sick, and/or fleshless domestic salmon from the pens. The farmed salmon remains were buried in dunes close to the farms, but the farms’ outbreaks were abundantly clear.

Scotland’s wild salmon, upon returning from the ocean, passed, “through Loch Roag where there are seven salmon farms, all operated by The Scottish Salmon Company (TSSC),” according to the Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS). Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TCS, linked the salmon farms with dangerous levels of sea lice numbers and increased mortality rates for the native, wild salmon.

Currently, Scotland does not have a government agency ensuring the health and protection of wild salmon. As such, Scottish law desperately needs to be revamped, in order to effectively protect its wild salmon populations and better regulate the commercial salmon farming industry.

Federal lawmaking is often a bureaucratic and tedious process, so we hope the S&TCS, anglers, and other interest groups can rattle enough cages to modify the Scottish status quo.

For more information on sea lice affecting large swaths of wild Scottish salmon, check out this article from Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland. Also, check out these Flylords’ articles:

Wild Salmon in Danger…Again

BREAKING NEWS: Washington State Senate Moves to Phase Out Atlantic Salmon Pen Farming