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Scottish salmon chief confident over ISA virus threat

SSPO chief executive Scott Landsburgh. Photo: SSPO
SSPO chief executive Scott Landsburgh. Photo: SSPO

Scott Landsburgh tells fishfarmingexpert.com that if the pathogenic ISA virus was detected in Scottish salmon farms, the industry is well placed to deal with it “quickly and effectively”.  

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The comments by Landsburgh, the chief of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), followed the announcement this week that the presence of pathogenic ISA virus had been confirmed at a salmon farming site in the Faroe Islands operated by Bakkafrost.

“Husbandry techniques, farm management practices and cooperative working arrangements between companies in the same management areas are constantly reviewed and improved to ensure that the highest standards of fish health and welfare are in place at all times,” Landsburgh said.

Scott Landsburgh says Scottish salmon farmers work closely with the regulatory authorities.
Scott Landsburgh says Scottish salmon farmers work closely with the regulatory authorities.

“In the unlikely event that infectious salmon anaemia is found, Scottish salmon farmers work closely with the regulatory authorities with the aim of minimising any immediate impacts, and ensuring that it is eliminated as rapidly as possible.

“All of the measures already in place in Scotland meet the requirements of EU fish health legislation, having been reviewed and strengthened following two previous occurrences of ISA a number of years ago, and we are confident that, should ISA be detected in the future, we are well placed to deal with it quickly and effectively.”

No compensation

Landsburgh noted that, unlike in agriculture where there are compensation schemes in place for losses incurred due to notifiable diseases such as food and mouth and BSE, “there is no provision for compensation for any compulsory slaughter of salmon required under the regulatory measures currently in place”.

A Scottish government spokesman told fishfarmingexpert.com: “Scotland is free from ISA and has successfully eradicated the disease on two previous occasions [in 1998-99 and 2008-09]. We are aware that the pathogenic strain of ISA has been confirmed at a salmon farm in the Faroes this week.

“The Scottish Government maintains a high aquatic animal health status and has robust plans in pace to deal with outbreaks of disease. Contingency exercises ensure that we remain ready to respond disease events.

“In Scotland, compensation is not offered for ISA-affected fish stocks. This is in line with practice in other salmon-producing countries in Europe.”

Faroe Islands salmon producer Bakkafrost confirmed the presence of pathogenic ISA virus at its A-73 Hvannasund Norður site on Monday.

Earlier this month, the company announced it was to harvest one million fish early at the same location as a precautionary measure, losing 2,000 tons of volume in the process.

The site had been under increased surveillance since July 2016, when a routine test showed the suspicion of fish being infected by pathogenic infectious salmon anaemia virus.

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