PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE â€“ 23rd SEPTEMBR 2005
Bogus report from Scottish Environment Protection Agency
More than 300,000 diseased salmon from Marine Harvest Limited fish farms in the Western Isles have been buried in the machair (gobally important shell-sand dunes and fields) at Kyles-paible near Bayhead on the Island of North Uist. Marine Harvest continues to use the site to dispose of their sick and dying fish.
When SFPG chairman Bruce Sandison visited and photographed the site on 31st May/1st June there were no disinfection facilities or warning to the public to keep out. Pools of stinking slurry and discarded bags were fly-ridden. Tubs used to transport the dead fish were being washed on the beach, polluting sea-pools.
Government bodies responsible for the operation of the site â€“ Scottish Executive (SE), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) â€“ deny that the site was in this state. They based this upon a report prepared by SEPA officer, Jamie Hepburn, from Stornoway.
Mr Hepburn claims to have visited the site the day after (2nd June) the SFPG visit, when he found there had been â€œNo recent burialsâ€, nor was there â€œAny smell or evidence of burialâ€.
Scottish National Heritage inspected the site on 17th August when they found: â€œOne active pit (approximately 4m x 4m) partly filled with fish and covered with a layer of sand,â€¦. and there was a typical dead fish smell when standing right next to this open pit.â€
Three days later, Jamie Hepburn made another visit to the site when he reported: â€œThere had been no recent burial of morts. There was no smell or evidence of burial.â€
Bruce Sandison has now written to SEPA requesting a full review of their response to his concerns, and has copied his letter to SEPA chairman Sir Ken Collins, SEPA North Area Board Chairman Professor Brian Clark, and to SNH chief executive officer, Ian Jardine.
Sandison also wrote to Western Isles Council (11th June) under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking answers to his concerns about the operation of the fish dump. Under the terms of the Act, the council is required to respond within 20 working days. As of now, no reply has been received and the matter has been placed in the hands of Scotlandâ€™s Freedom of Information Commissioner.
Bruce Sandison said: â€œI am appalled that an official of Scotlandâ€™s environmental protection agency should have filed what is in my view an entirely spurious, misleading and bogus report, and that the Scottish Executive and SEPA support this report. I honestly believe that this is just another example of the lengths to which government bodies will go to protect the dirty business of fish farming from public scrutiny.â€
For further information, contact: Bruce Sandison, tel: 01847 611274 and
see full details on www.salmonfarmmonitor.org