REPRESENTATIVES of Scotland’s wild fish interests have condemned the salmon dialogue process backed by WWF, saying it is naïve, vague and without teeth.
Scotland’s leading wild fish interests, the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB), the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) and the Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA), have issued a highly critical response to proposals by the international conservation organisation WWF, to accredit salmon farm companies with “environmentally, socially and economically responsible” operations. Draft Indicators for the ‘Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue’ scheme have just been published and are due to be finalised following a meeting convened by WWF in Bergen on November 16th and 17th.
The Scottish wild fish organisations say that the Steering Committee for the US-inspired accreditation scheme is dominated by salmon farming companies with the companies providing all the necessary funding. Scotland’s wild fish interests are adamant that the criteria that the fish farm companies will need to meet for accreditation are no more than woolly aspirations and that they will do nothing to alleviate the existing impact of salmon farming on stocks of wild salmon and sea trout.
Paul Knight, Executive Director of S&TA, said: “It is astonishing that the world’s leading independent conservation body is on the threshold of finalising an accreditation scheme for salmon farming, which will give the recipients a valuable badge of environmental respectability, without proper consultation with European, let alone Scottish, wild fish interests. Indeed the only wild fish interests represented on the Steering Committee are from Chile and British Columbia. Given the failure to consult with Scottish wild fish interests, it is hardly surprising that the concerns that we have been voicing for years have not been addressed”.
Mr Knight continued: “The Draft Indicators as published threaten to standardise flawed operating procedures, rather than tackling the deep-rooted problems associated with salmon aquaculture. Indeed there is little in the document that acknowledges the severe impact salmon aquaculture has inflicted on wild salmon and sea trout and the surrounding freshwater and marine aquatic environment. WWF is playing into the hands of those governments and sections of the industry which continue to deny any adverse impact, despite the wealth of peer reviewed scientific literature to the contrary. Furthermore WWF’s proposed ‘7 Point Plan’ is far too vague and without teeth. Its underlying principle seems to be the need to prove parasite and disease impact on wild salmonids against ambient natural levels before any action is required.”