Salmon disease detected in Scotland

An outbreak of ISA on Shetland, the Western Isles and Orkney in 1998 and 1999 was estimated to have cost the industry £100million and led to the loss of 200 jobs.

To prevent similar damage this time, the Scottish Executive has announced the formation of a national disease control centre. A control zone and a wider surveillance zone have been established, with movement restrictions put in place.

Mike Russell, the Scottish environment minister, promised that lessons had been learned from the outbreak a decade ago, and said these would be “vigorously applied”.

ISA does not affect humans, but is potentially fatal to salmon and can seriously harm the fish’ stocks.

Scotland is the world’s third largest producer of Atlantic salmon, with sales of about £300million per year worldwide. The industry supports 8,500 jobs north of the Border.

The salmon farm where the disease was discovered has been empty of fish since December 21, while one of the other two sites was emptied six weeks ago.

The Fisheries Research Service is sending a team of fish health inspectors to Shetland to investigate the affected sites and to advise the industry. Investigations into the potential source and spread of the disease will also be carried out.

Tavish Scott, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Shetland MSP, said he recalled the “enormous financial problems” caused by the outbreak ten years ago, but said the industry had changed a lot since.