SALMON farms are to publish data on sea lice and fish mortality amid growing concerns about the environmental impact of the industry.

David Sandison, general manager of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), gave the commitment at a meeting of Holyrood’s Environment Committee.

The committee is holding an inquiry into the environmental impact of salmon farming following a report that highlighted the potential for lice from farmed salmon to damage wild populations of fish.

The report, by SAMS Research Services, said there were gaps in the data and called for farm lice statistics to be put in the public domain.

Sandison told MSPs: “We understand and acknowledge that there are gaps in data and we could definitely enhance that further.

“I can confirm that from hereon forthwith we will be publishing all data associated with sea lice counts on farms on a farm-by-farm basis in Scotland. This backs up the decision of the industry SSPO board that was taken in November last year and is now in the public domain.

“We believe that we need to move the debate forward.

“We hear all the arguments, we hear all the background noise, but we want to have a proper, open, honest dialogue about the actual status of farmed sites in Scotland and if we feel, or if people feel, that that data can be of use to the scientific and research community and can move us forward, then fine.

“We have absolutely no problem whatsoever in being completely open and transparent with that data. There’s nothing whatsoever that we wish to hide away.”

Sandison said farm level mortality data would also be published.

Sam Collin, convener of the Scottish Environment LINK aquaculture subgroup and marine planning officer at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, welcomed the announcement but called for historical data to also be published.

He said: “It takes time to collect data, it takes time to monitor, and that will delay any action and any conclusive results.

“With the historical data, we can begin with a wealth of data and start making changes now.”

Sandison said the SSPO was “very happy to look at what we can provide that would help the debate”.