More problems for farmed Salmon?

22 May

Following the BBC’s Panorama programme on salmon farming shown on BBC 2 on Monday 20th May, the following news item appeared in today’s edition of The Independent.

A sudden surge in algae has killed at least eight million salmon in one week across Norwegian fish farms, the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said.The enormous algal blooms, due to recent warm weather, have spread rapidly around Norway’s northern coast, sticking to fishes’ gills and suffocating them.

Wild fish can swim away from the lethal clouds of aquatic organisms, but farmed fish are trapped. The algae is continuing to spread, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said.

The organisation said on Tuesday that more than 10,000 tonnes of farmed salmon, with a sales price of some 620 million Norwegian crowns (£56m), had been killed, but the Seafood Council said the loss would be much greater.

“It’s too soon to say how big the losses will be for the producers. Preliminary numbers point to eight million dead fish, corresponding to 40,000 tonnes of salmon that won’t reach markets,” Seafood Council analyst Paul Aandahl said.

This means the algae may already have wiped out over £200m worth of fish in total.

Similar algal blooms have been reported on the west coast of Scotland in recent weeks, and experts told The Independent the algae, believed to have killed thousands of fish in Loch Fyne, had come very early in the year. Hundreds of tonnes of dead fish were removed following the bloom, according to the BBC.

Norway is the world’s largest exporter of salmon and the effect of the millions of deaths will likely see half the expected growth in salmon volumes wiped out this year as a result, while prices are likely to rise, said Lars Konrad Johnsen, an analyst at Fearnleys, an investment bank which specialises in maritime industries.

“Providing the net effect is something in the area of 20 – 30 thousand tonnes, this means you lose around half of the growth that was to come this year – and that will no doubt affect prices,” Mr Johnsen told Reuters.

Norway exported 1.24 million tonnes of salmon in 2018, up 2.5 per cent from 2017, according to data from Statistics Norway.

The colossal death toll comes as Mowi, the world’s biggest salmon farming company, which is also Norwegian, is being investigated over claims it has misreported the volume of chemical medications it uses to fight disease at its Scottish salmon farms. Overuse of chemicals has disastrous impacts on the surrounding marine environment.

Farmed salmon stocks are already collapsing due to infestations of sea lice, which have in turn affected wild stocks. Last month, Mowi revealed the amount of gutted salmon it produced from Scottish waters had fallen by 36 per cent in a year, with infestations of sea lice and disease blamed.

Open-net salmon farms, alongside climate change and soaring demand for salmon are all blamed for impacting wild salmon populations, which have dwindled to the lowest levels ever recorded.

There are now no commercial wild salmon fishing stations operating in the UK due to the collapse in numbers.

“We had a major bloom here in upper Loch Fyne a fortnight ago,” Alastair Sinclair, the national coordinator for the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation, told The Independent.

“It’s a huge risk to the inshore fishing industry in the sense that these farms are generally sited in sea lochs which historically have been known as breeding and spawning grounds for every species you could imagine.”

“There’s basically no fish stocks left on the west coast. It’s become almost a marine desert, and the use of these chemicals (from the salmon farming industry) has not helped the situation – they are exacerbating it.”  He added: “There are many concerned communities on the west coast where salmon farming takes place, who are worried the future has not been thought of here… We’re all pretty worried.”

Salmon and Sea-Trout; Net Trials.

17 May

The Environment Agency has now released further information on how the the trial ‘T’ nets will operate in the north-east fishery area (Article of 4th March 2019 refers) together with information on where nets will operate and to whom permits will/have been issued.

‘T’ Net; Trial Net Controls.

Salmon and Sea-trout

Subject to regulatory approval, from June 1st until August 31st 2019: five of twenty two eligible licensed ‘T’ net nets men will take part in a monitored trial, in District 1 of the north-east fishery (Tweed to Tyne).

These shore based nets will operate in the following locations:-

·     Tyne Conservation Area B (South Shields)

·     Coquet Conservation Area B north (Boulmer Stell)

·     Coquet Conservation Area B south (Amble Stell)

·     Druridge Bay

·     North Tyneside coast / Blyth area

Nets must operate as a sea trout fishery with a small by catch of salmon – not more than 5% of the number of sea trout caught ( i.e. 1 in 20). NB this is salmon caught and released not caught and killed.

The EA will undertake a rolling assessment on a daily, weekly and trial-to-date basis.

The outcome of the trial will depend upon the degree and frequency the nets exceed the salmon target and over what timescale.

Exceeding the 5% target on a particular day by a small margin will trigger increased monitoring and scrutiny. Significant exploitation over a longer period in multiple locations will result in a review of the continued viability of the trial.

The EA reserve the right to halt the trial at any time. A small increase over the target figure on a single day would not be likely to cause netting to be halted, but full control criteria have not yet been fully established.

The EA have set an indicative upper threshold of mortality at not more than 50 salmon per season.

Daily catches will be recorded for all 5 nets over the whole of the trial period. This will be assessed by trial participants completing detailed logbooks, together with boat and shore based observations by agency staff, including landing inspections.

Trial monitoring will be undertaken by EA, CEFAS and DEFRA Officials.

Net Permits.

Permits for the Tyne Conservation Area A – are issued by the Environment Agency, and operate on a reducing basis, in the same way as the Net Limitation Order reduces overall ‘T’ net licences. There are 2 berths in the Tyne Conservation Area fishery, owned by the Church Commissioners, the pier berth and the gun berth, so only 2 nets may fish at any time.

Formerly, six licensees fished these two berths in rotation. As licensees have retired from the ‘T’ net fishery, permits have not been re-issued. There are currently 3 licensees fishing the two berths in rotation. As these licensees retire, their permits to fish within the Conservation Area will not be re-issued to other licensees, and the fishery will reduce over time to zero.

The issue of permits to fish within Coquet Conservation Area B – the Boulmer and Amble Stell fisheries owned by the Duke of Northumberland is not a matter within the Environment Agency’s control. However, permits within this fishery have been issued in recent years on a reducing basis, such that as ‘T’ net licensees who fish in the Stell fisheries retire, new permits have not been issued.

Conclusion

All anglers are trying hard to comprehend how, given the poor official state of sea trout stocks in the North East rivers, a sea trout net fishery, trial or otherwise, that exploits a dwindling resource can be contemplated.

Healthy sea trout stocks in all rivers is to everyone’s advantage, as without this fish there will be no commercial netting and no recreational sea-trout angling.

River Wear-Invasive Non Native Species; Training Course.

27 Apr

As reported on the 15th April 2019  the Wear Rivers Trust has a current project to map and control Wear Invasive Non Native Species (WINNS) with particular focus on riverbanks. To that end the WRT can offer 2019 training in the form of a Safe Use of Pesticides Course PA1 and PA6(W). This will allow legal use of a knapsack sprayer to treat Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam safely next to watercourses. The WRT will pay for the training and in exchange will ask clubs to treat their own waters (and if possible, upstream sources to stop seeds washing down). The training will take place over two and a half days as described below;

Wednesday 22nd May (PA1 Safe Handling and Application of Pesticide) – everyone must attend this day.

Friday 31st May or Wed 5th June (PA6AW Safe Use of Hand Held Applicators in or near water) – everyone must attend one of these two days.

Mon 10th June or Tue 11th June or Wed 12th June (Assessment by City in Guilds) – everyone must attend for a half day to pass a simple practical test on one of these 3 days.

The course will take place between 9am – 5pm at the Durham Wildlife Trust HQ at Rainton Meadows, Houghton le Spring, DH4 6PU.

The cost to WRT is going to be about £600 each and those that attend will get a knapsack and all kit and ‘Round up,’ so please ensure you really can afford the time if you put a name forward.