from Sunday Herald, 10 February 2013
When Ewan Kennedy, a retired lawyer from the Argyll village of Kilmelford, discovered that a nearby fish farm he had been campaigning against had suffered mass mortalities, he wanted to know more. So he started asking questions.
He soon discovered from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) that there had been 82,663 salmon deaths between August 2011 and June 2012 at the Ardmaddy fish farm in Seil Sound. But the authorities didn’t make clear what had caused the deaths – though it was probably due to an outbreak of Amoebic Gill Disease.
And when Kennedy, who is secretary of the Save Seil Sound campaign group, asked what had happened to the 257 tonnes of dead fish waste, no-one seemed to know. “This must have presented an enormous disposal problem,” he told the Sunday Herald.
“I don’t know which is worse, Sepa and Marine Scotland not asking what killed the fish, or Argyll and Bute Council not knowing anything about where the waste went, when these three share the responsibility for protecting public health.”
Argyll and Bute Council confirmed that it had “no policy” on the disposal of dead fish, as that was the responsibility of the fish farm. “They don’t tell us where they dispose of them, and they don’t have to,” said a council spokeswoman.
Sepa said that the disposal of dead animals was not an area where it had a “leading regulatory role”. It provided advice to councils and animal health authorities and, according to a spokesman, “does not have details of the disposal routes of mortalities arising at fish farms.”
The company that runs Ardmaddy fish farm, Polish-owned Meridian Salmon, declined to answer questions about the disposal of its dead fish. So it is impossible to be sure of their fate, though the suspicion is they ended up in a landfill site in northern England.
Two other councils with fish farms in their areas, Western Isles and Shetland, said that dead salmon went to local landfill sites. “It is the responsibility of the salmon farm to make arrangements for disposal of their waste, including salmon morts,” said a spokeswoman for Shetland Islands Council.
Some 2,193 tonnes of salmon waste were disposed of at the council’s landfill site in 2012, she added. But most of the waste was turned into fishmeal at a factory at Heogan on Bressay.
Read a related story about mass deaths at fish farms here.