Mandatory reporting of sea lice numbers has moved to a weekly basis for Scottish fish farmers.
An Order was laid in the Scottish Parliament introducing what the Scottish Government call a “step change” in sea lice reporting. It requires average weekly female sea lice numbers per fish to be reported one week in arrears, in place of current arrangements which require reporting only where specific levels are met or exceeded.
The policy was flagged up earlier this month by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, while giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
The additional information is intended to help the Fish Health Inspectorate to monitor and enforce policy on sea lice management. The data will be published to promote transparency.
As well as making the reporting of average sea lice numbers mandatory, the Order will require a reason for no count to be given and will refer to the penalties for not doing so.
The policy was developed through the Farmed Fish Health Working Group and a six week consultation on the new Order was held with relevant parties including the farmed fish sector, regulators, wild salmon interests, environmental interests and professional veterinarians.
As previously, the Fish Health Inspectorate sea lice reports will be available in spreadsheet format via the Scottish Government website.