Fury over SEPA changes to Slice treatment rules
Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, has hit out at the ‘chaos’ caused by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s move to slash the use of in-feed sea lice medicine Slice.
SEPA announced this week it is putting in place an interim regulatory position for new applications that limits residues in sediment of emamectin benzoate – the active ingredient in Slice – “to the extent that practically useable quantities are unlikely to be able to be authorised, unless effective mitigation measures are put in place to collect fish faeces and ensure the metabolites from the administration of the medicated feed are contained”.
Operators at existing sites are being asked to reduce their application of emamectin benzoate by 60 per cent.
The review by WRc, which was commissioned in August 2016, was delivered to SEPA in February this year but has not yet been subjected to independent peer review – nor have those with most experience of developing and using Slice been permitted to submit data and other information in support of ongoing use prior to the report’s publication and SEPA’s new ruling.
“This is a most bizarre situation,” Landsburgh said. “SEPA have published a report based on desk research on non-native species in freshwater, regardless of the fact that our salmon mature in marine water. Then they ask if anyone has any other information to contribute to their findings.
“No business can operate successfully in this sort of chaos. If the Scottish government and its agencies want to deter investment, put jobs and economic benefit in jeopardy this is certainly the right way to go about it. SEPA have introduced immediate regulatory changes with no consideration of the social and economic impact despite being legally required to do so.
Critically important tool
“Slice has been, and continues to be, a critically important tool within the industry’s strategy to protect the health and welfare of farmed salmon; a strategy strongly encouraged by Scottish government in its support for the ongoing sustainable development of this crucially important rural industry.
“Scottish salmon is Scotland’s and the UK’s number one food export supporting over 8,000 jobs, mostly in the Highlands and Islands where there are few alternatives. Working to strict environmental standards, we produce a healthy, high quality food which has a growing market across the UK and in 60 countries worldwide. If this sort of chaotic regulation starts then we can expect to lose our market share, which will undoubtedly have a negative impact on investment, loss of jobs and economic benefit to Scotland.”
Announcing the new ruling, SEPA’s chief executive Terry A’Hearn said: “Aquaculture is an important and ambitious industry in Scotland, but can have an adverse impacts on the environment. Ensuring that this vital sector operates within the capacity of our world-class coastal environment is essential, and a key objective for SEPA. We want to strengthen and modernise our regulatory controls so that the risks to Scotland’s environment from existing fish farms and future new farms are minimised.”
Landsburgh has issued a formal complaint to SEPA.