Hudghton (Greens/EFA), rapporteur. - Infectious salmon anaemia is a contagious viral disease which was first recorded in Norway in 1984, then in Canada in 1986 and first found in European Union territory in May 1998 in Scotland. Although the virus has been found in other species, the disease itself is so far confined to salmon. The virus is known not to survive above 25o Celsius and scientists have therefore agreed that no threat to human health exists; it simply cannot survive in warmblooded creatures. The Scottish salmon-farming industry is the biggest in the EU, spread throughout some of Europe' s most peripheral communities. It sustains some 6 500 jobs and generates around EUR 800 million annually. It is obvious therefore that this issue is especially important to Scotland but it is vitally important to all parts of Europe that the disease be brought under control and, if possible, eradicated.
The current directive prohibits the use of vaccination and requires that all fish in an affected farm be slaughtered whether affected by the disease or not. The intention in adopting the current regime was to eradicate ISA and to do so as quickly as possible. The reality is that the compulsory slaughter policy has failed even to contain, let alone eradicate ISA, and while failing to deliver its objectives, the present rule has had a devastating economic effect on the industry with no compensation being paid and no possibility of commercial insurance. The proposed changes are twofold: the first would permit the use of vaccination as a weapon in this battle. This is a necessary change and should be accompanied by a commitment at European level to instigate and fund research into developing an effective vaccine. The second proposed change would permit a phased withdrawal of fish from affected farms, working to a plan based on the severity of the problem in any particular farm. This approach has been used very effectively in Norway where new reports of ISA are down to a handful of cases a year having peaked at some 80-90 cases per year in the early 1990s. I therefore support the Commission' s proposed changes and I am calling for their urgent adoption and implementation. I also highlight the issue of compensation and call for the amendment of Council Decision 90/424/EEC by specifically including ISA in its appended list of diseases, thereby enabling compensation to be paid at 50% Commission, 50% Member State. I thank colleagues in the Fisheries Committee for their overwhelming vote in support of my report and I in particular thank my Scottish colleagues in the committee for their input to this whole process. I am opposing Amendments 7 to 13 which were decisively rejected by the Fisheries Committee. Most of their content is either unnecessary or already referred to in my text. In particular, I have drawn attention to the need to study the extent and effect of interaction between farmed and wild salmon, the need to investigate the source of ISA and the need to test more widely for the virus in wild stocks. These amendments by the Green component of the Greens/European Free Alliance Group are designed to provide justification for Amendment 13. This amendment is completely unacceptable and inappropriate as it seeks not only to retain the requirement for immediate compulsory slaughter of all fish but also to prevent any fish, whether diseased or not, from an affected farm from being sold and I must emphasise that under current policy no diseased fish are sold. There is no proposal to change that and under the proposed new regime there is no question of diseased fish being sold. Amendments 7 to 13 simply fail to take account of the reality as evidenced by the starkly contrasting statistics from Scotland and from Norway. In Scotland we have endured a draconian regime which has failed to achieve its objective. In Norway, with their much longer experience, compulsory, 100% culling was abandoned some years ago and a range of measures have led there to a dramatically improved situation. It is in all of our interests to ensure that in Scotland too we contain ISA and prevent its further spread. Last week saw the publication in Scotland of a report by a joint government and industry working group on ISA. This comprehensive document takes account of a wide range of possible risks and recommends action to combat them in areas such as site-to-site transmission, security measures to curtail escapes, treatment of waste and effluent, methods of detection and diagnosis, farrowing and rotation, disinfection of equipment and many, many more. Some can and will be implemented immediately by local authorities using existing powers, others will be incorporated into codes of practice. All will be beneficial, not just in relation to ISA but in achieving better standards in aquaculture generally where required. Your votes, colleagues, in favour of my report in full, as endorsed by the Fisheries Committee, will be a very important part of a wider ISA control package based on the reality of Scotland' s situation and the lessons learned from the success of others.