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Scottish Salmon welfare report published. Annual figures published on 06.03.2020 by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) show that the sector had an average monthly survival rate of 98.60 per cent for 2019.

The average is down slightly on the 2018 figure of 98.83 per cent, owing to environmental challenges experienced by a number of farms in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

Salmon farmers worked hard to overcome environmental challenges from August onwards, including planktonic blooms and increased water temperatures. These directly and indirectly impacted on the health of some fish, with the largest reported cause of premature mortality among stocks resulting from gill health issues.

Hamish Macdonell, Director of Strategic Engagement with the SSPO, said:

“The Scottish salmon farming sector continues to invest and innovate in the management of such challenges. Fish health and welfare will always be our members’ top priority.

“There are a number of initiatives underway to increase the health management toolbox available to Scotland’s fish farmers.

“These are being complemented by focused research into understanding the impacts of recent environmental challenges, the Scottish 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework and increased sector-wide information sharing.”

Scotland will host the next Gill Health Initiative (GHI) meeting in April, with representatives from Chile, Norway, Faroes and Ireland expected to attend alongside their Scottish salmon farming counterparts.

Sea lice averages for 2019 were 0.54 adult female lice per salmon, up slightly from a seven year low in 2018 of 0.46. The Scottish salmon sector is continuing to successfully pursue its ‘prevention over cure’ strategy with regards to the management of sea lice, with medicinal spending falling as the increasing deployment of innovations such as cleaner fish and mechanical treatments.

Scotland continues to lead the aquaculture world in the reporting of farmed salmon survival data and in the sustained management of sea lice.

Scottish salmon sector investment in sea lice management more than doubled from 2015 to 2018, from £26 million to £61.7 million. In the same period investment in a ‘prevention over cure’ strategy saw medicinal spend fall from £18.4 million to £9.7 million.

In 2019 the SSPO voluntarily moved to the monthly publication of survivability and sea lice averages, moving past the three-month reporting schedule it had worked to in the past. The move remains above and beyond the regulatory data the sector already shares.

The Scottish Government’s Farmed Fish Health Framework sets out measures to support sustainable growth across the Scottish fish farming sector. The scheme aims to “ensure that fish health remains the focus of sustainable production and growth in Scotland”. It also wants to ensure ‘the right people, organisations and resources come together to address new and developing challenges efficiently”.