NEW measures to protect salmon from killer sea lice “just won’t wash”, a campaigner claims.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing yesterday announced proposals for tougher measures on the parasites, which are found in both wild waters and fish farms.

In March the country’s biggest salmon farmer, Norway-based Mowi, blamed sea lice for a 36% fall in production.

Now more rigorous checks are to be introduced in order to protect native fish stocks from the parasite threat posed by Scotland’s £1.8 billion aquaculture industry.

READ MORE: Fisheries Management Scotland appeals for action over salmon stocks

Weekly reports will be required from each facility from next year, with the number of lice per fish allowed to reduce.

Ewing told MSPs the Scottish Government is “extremely concerned about the serious declines in wild Atlantic salmon populations right across the north-east Atlantic”, adding: “We must continue to apply high health and welfare standards in order to ensure that Scotland can continue to produce a world-class and high-quality product.”

Welcoming the announcement, Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said the sector has already been working to reduce lice levels. She added: “We would expect everyone with an interest in wild as well as farmed salmon and sea lice to work to the same high levels of transparency and ensure data is accurately collected and quickly reported and published.

“Building trust in the regulatory system is important.”

However, Scottish Salmon Watch director Don Staniford said the changes should have been implemented years ago, adding: “The Scottish Government’s stalling tactics of deny, delay and distract simply won’t wash.

“Instead of promoting a doubling of salmon farming by 2030, the Scottish Government should be rescinding licences for poor operators and reducing production at polluting sites.”