Ruskell warns ban on exports of salmon is step closer as regulators and industry unable to address seal issue

Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (6 Feb) warned that a ban on exports of Scottish farmed salmon is a step closer after regulators and the industry were unable to say what steps they have taken to meet US import rules prohibiting the killing of mammals such as seals.

At today's meeting of Holyrood's Environment Committee, the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation also confirmed that it will begin routinely publishing data on disease, sea lice infestations, and mortalities at their farms following pressure from campaigners.

Last April, Mr Ruskell challenged Environment Secretary Roseannah Cunningham over the issue of seal killing affecting exports.

Today, Mark said:

"It's a real worry that almost a year after ministers appeared complacent on the issue, we now have regulators and the industry offering no answers to a looming export ban which could cost the Scottish economy £200 million a year. The US - a huge market - now requires proof that seafood imports are harvested in a way that minimises harm to marine mammals, and we know that fish farms in Scotland regularly shoot seals.

"Either the Scottish Government does the responsible thing and bins the laws that allow the killing of seals, or it lobbies President Trump’s administration to weaken US environmental laws. Which is it to be?

"As for the Salmon Producers publishing farm by farm data, this has only come about due to sustained pressure from communities and activists concerned about the impact on our marine environment. The publication of industry data must be the first step in a new, transparent approach by the industry. We would like reporting to be mandatory, and for historical data to be made available, so we can begin to establish why one in four fish die in our salmon farms in Scotland."