§ 11.18 a.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement summarising the effect of ulcerated dermal necrosis on salmon; and, in particular, state what research is being undertaken by, or is supported by, Her Majesty's Government, to ascertain the cause and treatment of this disease.
My Lords, our rivers continue to be affected by this disease although the incidence varies in different parts of the country. Southern 610 England is the least affected. The incidence of the disease fluctuates from one year to another. It is not now so heavy as five or six years ago and there appears to have been a steady fall in S.W. Wales and parts of Northern England. A laboratory has recently been established at Weymouth primarily to undertake research on ulcerated dermal necrosis and work upon the nature and cause of the infection is being conducted at the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, will Her Majesty's Government be allocating any reasonable funds to this research which is of great value not only to rod-and-line fishermen (and here I declare an interest) but to netsmen and to the tourist industry? Furthermore, may we join in wishing good luck to the scientists and the salmon?
My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for those good wishes. I can assure him that Her Majesty's Government are concerned about this matter. There are eight scientific staff, up to the level of principal scientific officer, trying to cope with the problems of this disease and the annual expenditure at the moment is £54,968.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, can the noble Earl say what is the latest information about the number of different species of fish that are infected in this way? Is he aware, for instance, that fishing in the North-West of Scotland in Loch Maree, both for salmon and for sea trout, has been extremely bad, and that, rather surprisingly, there are even reports of eels having been infected?
My Lords, my information is that the fish most likely to be affected are salmon, sea trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. I did not know that eels came under this category. I should perhaps point out to the noble Lord that as it appears at the moment this disease causes raw ulcers, but it is not expected to kill the fish. Having got the raw ulcers they then get infected by a fungus called saprolegnia which is what kills the fish. When I say that, I speak, of course, subject to the fact that this is the information that the laboratory has discovered so far.