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SEA BAN ON DEADLY SCALLOPS; Fears over killer poison.

SCALLOP fishing has been banned in 8000 square miles of Scottish waters.

Fears are growing that people could die or suffer irreversible brain damage from eating poison shellfish.

The Government imposed the ban on the west coast after scallops were found to have been contaminated with lethal quantities of a toxin.

The affected area stretches between Jura and Cape Wrath.

Scientists at the Government-funded Fisheries Research Services laboratory are working furiously to find a solution.

The latest food industry scare centres around amnesic shellfish poisoning - which causes horrendous brain damage in humans.

Scallops have already been found to contain more than four times the permitted EU level of the toxin.

Victims can experience severe sickness and headaches, numb limbs and memory loss.

If it is not diagnosed right away, a condition similar to Alzheimer's Disease sets in which can lead to death from asphyxiation after coma. It claimed four people in Canada recently after 150 people fell ill.

Environmentalists and fishermen blame fish farmers, claiming their effluent 'feeds' natural algae which produce the toxin.

Friends of the Earth marine research officer Don Staniford said: "We are sitting on a toxic time bomb.

"We need an immediate inquiry into the whole state of Scotland's coastal environment."

A world expert on toxic and harmful algae, Alan Berrie, called it a "disastrous situation" and backed calls for an inquiry.

Mr Berrie added: "The algae which produce the toxin do occur naturally in coastal waters but there is no history of toxicity or toxic events associated with this before 1987. High levels of ammonia appear to be to blame.

"It has been estimated that the discharge of ammonia from farms to Scottish waters at the height of summer equates with that from sewage produced by a human population of seven million."

But Bill Crowe, of the Scottish Salmon Growers' Association, said he would welcome a full-scale inquiry to get rid of "innuendo, half-truths and distortions".

Speaking for the scallop fishermen, Hugh Allen said: "Our product is at the top end of the market. Some members feel it is a knee-jerk reaction to have such a large ban, but the consumer comes first."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Aitken, Vivienne
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 19, 1999
Words:358
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