Mull salmon farm reinstated after suspension

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RSPCA Assured has lifted the suspension of a Mull salmon farm which was at the centre of welfare allegations.

The organisation reinstated the Scottish Sea Farms site at Loch Spelve after a brief period of suspension.

It came after anti salmon farm campaigners circulated videos and photos on social media showing wounds on fish.

Scottish Sea Farms strongly denied the allegations and said the injuries were as a result of seal attacks.

It also rejected subsequent footage released this week as ‘inaccurate and unfair’.

But campaigners have formally lodged complaints about fish health with a number of authorities including Police Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency.

RSPCA Assured acts as an ethical food label and accredits those producers demonstrating high welfare standards.

It has been among the organisations to visit the farm in the aftermath of the footage to carry out checks.

It said in a statement: ‘We were very concerned by some of the footage and allegations of poor welfare and immediately suspended the farm whilst we urgently investigated.

‘Following our detailed investigation, which included a rigorous in-person inspection by a specially-trained RSPCA farm livestock officer, we found no evidence to support the allegations made.

‘Unfortunately, it’s a reality of farming any animal – and also pet ownership – that from time to time there can be disease outbreaks and other welfare challenges.

‘What’s most important is that the person responsible acts swiftly to address them.

‘We are fully satisfied the issues identified in the video were being swiftly and responsibly addressed by the farm at the time, in accordance with the RSPCA’s welfare standards.

‘Therefore, we have today (Tuesday) lifted their suspension.

‘Any allegations of animal welfare issues, or breaches of the RSPCA Assured membership agreement, are taken very seriously and always thoroughly investigated.

‘But, thankfully, welfare concerns on RSPCA Assured certified farms are extremely rare, and many millions more farm animals are having a better life thanks to the work of the charity.’

Jim Gallagher, the managing director of Scottish Sea Farms, commented: ‘As farmers, we do everything in our power to protect our livestock, including from the threat of natural predators such as seals and sea birds, but no approach or measure is 100 per cent failsafe all of the time.

‘Seeing even a small number of our fish succumb to a predator attack or ill-health is hugely distressing for all involved but doubly so when it is misrepresented as neglect or abuse.’