WESTERN MORNING NEWS - Plymouth, UK
Cornwall trout farm plans abandoned
By WMNAGreenwood | Posted: November 25, 2014
A bid to emulate Scotland’s billion-pound-a-year salmon industry by creating trout farms off the Cornish coast has been abandoned.
It emerged last year that the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), along with the British Trout Association and The Crown Estate, was pursuing a pilot scheme and was looking for a commercial partner.
The project, though, met with a decidedly mixed reaction amid long-held concerns about the impact of fish farms on the environment in Scotland. And it was also labelled “absolutely barmy” after last winter’s storms caused widespread damage.
Cefas has now confirmed the scheme “will not be progressed at this time” after failing to find a suitable partner.
That was welcome news for angling and fisheries organisations which were critical of the initiative and the “serious threats” it posed to salmon, sea trout and marine fish stocks.
Roger Furniss, secretary of South West Rivers Association, said: “Our salmon and sea trout stocks already face too many threats from pollution, abstraction and low marine survival rates.
“The unwelcome proposal being promoted by Cefas, a Government agency, could have been the final straw. The decision to abandon the project is great news.”
Paul Knight, chief executive of the Salmon and Trout Association, added, “English and Welsh salmon and sea trout have many man-made dangers to face, but thankfully not open net marine fish farming at the moment.
“Our experience in Scotland has shown that a farm off the Cornish coast could have killed wild salmon and sea trout by transferring disease and parasites from farm to the natural environment, and escapee rainbow trout would have run up Cornish and Devonian rivers, predating native species and competing with them for scant freshwater resources.”
Both associations were part of a coalition, also including the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers, the Angling Trust , the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Wild Trout Trust, Institute of Fisheries Management and the Rivers Trust, which lobbied against the project.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said: “It is good to see that this bizarre idea has been binned. Farming fish in the wild has had disastrous impacts in Scottish lochs, and it is hard to see how these risks couldn’t be much worse in seas that get battered by Atlantic storms on a regular basis.
“Our members in the South West are breathing a sigh of relief that this particular threat to their fishing has been removed. We remain concerned about the Government’s interest in farming fish however, and will resist vigorously any initiatives that might put wild fish at risk.”
On its website, Cefas said had been “managing a process for the selection of the commercial operator for the Cornwall Aquaculture Demonstration Project” over the summer.
It explained: “While there were several expressions of interest in taking forward this work, they did not meet the project’s terms of reference in the given timescale to deliver a project of the highest standard.
“Therefore, Cefas and the consortium have decided that the current demonstration project will not be progressed at this time.
“Cefas and the consortium members remain supportive of the sustainable development of aquaculture across England and Wales, and believe that projects based on sound science, stakeholder engagement and the sharing of information such as this can make a valuable contribution to future growth.”