RSPCA investigation finds no evidence of farmed salmon welfare violations at Mowi Scotland
There was no evidence to support recent allegations of alleged breaches of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act at salmon farms owned by Mowi Scotland, the United Kingdom's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) farm-animal welfare program, RSPCA Assured, has determined.
Investigating complaints made by anti-salmon farming campaign groups that claimed the producer’s salmon and cleaner fish had been subject to welfare abuse, the RSPCA confirmed that the farms had subsequently been visited by a specially trained RSPCA farm livestock officer and an RSPCA Assured assessor.
“During their visit, they did not find any of the problems highlighted in the images taken earlier this month and were satisfied that the fish they saw were being properly managed and cared for,” the charity said.
The RSPCA also stated that any allegations of animal welfare issues, or breaches of the RSPCA Assured membership agreement, are taken very seriously and always thoroughly investigated.
Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) concluded that the investigations, which also took into account sea lice information collected weekly from all sites, found that there were “no obvious sea lice or mortality issues” at a population level at any of the sites involved in the allegation.
“Appropriate measures are in place to control sea lice, remove mortalities, and ensure adequate fish health management at the sites in question,” FHI said in a press release.
The FHI confirmed the complaint had been discussed with the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA), which is responsible for investigating allegations of poor animal welfare on farms. APHA also found no evidence to support the allegations.
Last month, undercover video and photo footage were posted on activist group Scottish Salmon Watch’s website and social media sites, claiming to show dead farmed salmon and cleaner fish floating on the surface of cages, as well as salmon lice-infested salmon swimming in a shoal of wild fish inside a cage.
Scottish Salmon Watch Director Don Staniford claimed the footage came from Mowi farms certified by welfare standards body RSPCA Assured.
Mowi Scotland confirmed that Staniford had entered into the company’s salmon pens on 16 and 17 July with an underwater camera to target individual fish showing signs of distress.
The producer also advised that similar allegations filed in March triggered an investigation by the RSCPA and that a physical inspection by RSPCA Assured auditors also found no evidence to support the claims made.
Photo courtesy of Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals