The decisions follows an intervention from Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, (S&TCS), which drew the Soil Association’s attention to sea lice issues on the farm since it received organic accreditation in April 2021.

According to the conservation group, during 2021 sea lice numbers exceeded acceptable levels for large periods of the year “with very serious implications for wild fish”.

The Scottish salmon industry’s Code of Good Practice sates that farms should be treated for sea lice if they exceed an average of 0.5 adult female lice per farmed fish in the period of February-June and an average of 1.0 adult female lice per farmed fish for the period July-January.

S&TCS noted that “between weeks 13 and 47 the farm was within the salmon farming industry’s Code of Good Practice lice levels for only three weeks. In weeks 46 and 47 adult female sea lice numbers of 6.06 and 6.55 per fish respectively were recorded. The Scottish Government’s ‘intervention limit’ [wherein the company is forced to perform a mandatory harvest in order to reduce lice levels] is 6.”

In a press release issued this morning Andrew Graham-Stewart, director of S&TCS, said: “We welcome the Soil Association’s decision to strip Mowi’s Harport salmon farm of its organic accreditation. It is also abundantly clear that this has only happened because we drew the Soil Association’s attention to the farm’s very high sea lice numbers, reflecting Mowi’s inability to or unwillingness to maintain sea lice numbers at acceptable levels. We shall be working with the Soil Association to ensure that it does not require the intervention of another NGO before the Soil Association takes action in future.

“This episode exemplifies the basic problem with salmon farming accreditation schemes. To retain credibility, accreditation schemes need to be proactive, rather than reactive.”

Guy Linley-Adams, solicitor to S&TCS, added: “If you certify a fish farm, you hold yourself out to be watching that farm and making sure it ‘behaves’ against a set of standards. But you have also assumed a duty to the consumer, who expects you to ensure that the farm concerned deserves the accreditation you give it, not to mention the financial and marketing advantages that come too. I would suggest the Soil Association needs to learn from this case and keep a closer eye on those it certifies”.

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