SCOTLAND, UK - As part of its commitment to transparency and improving fish health in the aquaculture industry, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has released its latest report on Fish Health Management, including sea lice numbers, for salmon farms across Scotland.
The April-June report shows that sea lice numbers have generally remained low and that some improvements in numbers can be seen when comparing with the January-March 2014 report.
However, the Loch Long and Croe region, which is home to three active farms, has seen an increase in lice numbers from average numbers of 1.74 in April to 7.10 in June and Skye and Small Isles North region an increase from 2.33 to 7.95 over the same period.
In general, across all regions, sea lice numbers increased slightly from April to June 2014.
Concerned over the effect of sea lice on wild salmon, the Scottish Salmon and Trout Association (SS&TA) stated that some farms are breaching industry sea-lice standards which may threaten the survival of migrating young wild salmon and sea-trout.
Looking specifically at the Special Area for Conservation on the Little Gruinard River in the Wester Ross region, Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the SS&TA Aquaculture Campaign, said that sea lice have been over the threshold and despite extended fallow periods and the application of treatments, sea lice are still out of control.
In response to the comments from the SS&TA , the SSPO told TheFishSite that it is entirely normal for salmon, wild or farmed, to pick up sea lice, which are naturally occurring parasites, along their lifecycle.
The SPPO continued: "We work very hard to minimise sea lice occurrences with farm workers implementing appropriate actions, if necessary.
"Our salmon producers engage with a number of groups to ensure that fish have the best health possible.
The SSPO also reitterated how it is committed to an open and transparent industry. "The latest Fish Health Management report demonstrates how industry responds to requests for information as part of our ongoing commitment to openness and transparency."