§ Mr. Onslow
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that adequate precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the salmon disease gyrodactylus salaris into United Kingdom and Irish waters; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Gummer
We are aware that the parasite gyrodactylus salaris is associated with high mortalities among salmon in a number of Norwegian rivers and we have been keeping the position under review. The parasite is transmitted among live salmon in fresh water. Imports of live fish of the salmon family into Great Britain are prohibited under the Diseases of Fish Act 1937 and very strict fish health controls also operate in Northern Ireland. There is no evidence that it can be transmitted through salmon ova, but in any case imports of salmon ova are only permitted under stringent health certification requirements, involving disinfection. Our import controls therefore provide an adequate means of preventing the spread of the parasite to Great Britain.
Evidence so far available is not sufficient to enable us to conclude that mortalities would be caused by the presence of this parasite in British rivers to the same extent as appears to have happened in the conditions existing in Norwegian rivers. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friends and I have concluded that, as a precautionary measure, we should bring this parasite within the control provisions of the Diseases of Fish Act 1937.