For years the caged salmon industry has been allowed to dump diseased fish in landfill sites because of a loophole in public health law. But ministers have now had to close the loophole and oblige fish farm companies to dispose of dead fish in safer ways.
From the start of 2016 salmon farms must abide by the rules introduced in the wake of the outbreak of mad cow disease (BSE) in the 1980s. The farms have to incinerate, sterilise or compost their wastes, and not just tip them into landfill sites.
The £700 million fish farming industry has long had major problems with many millions of salmon mortalities annually, either caused by disease, excess medication or other causes. According to figures from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), over the last three years some 38,800 tonnes of dead fish have been recorded at fish farms across Scotland.
Between August 2011 and June 2012 82,663 salmon deaths from disease were recorded at Ardmaddy fish farm in Seil Sound, Argyll. When the local environmental group, Save Seil Sound, asked what had happened to the resulting 257 tonnes of dead fish, no-one seemed to know.