Salmon farming industry braces for Scottish parliament showdown

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It’ll be fish on the menu at Holyrood as parliament debate the findings of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee report into salmon farming.

The report was published last November by the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee, which launched its inquiry into the salmon sector earlier in 2018.

Report
The 148-page report published 65 recommendations by MSPs on everything from sea lice to mortalities. However, the inquiry found “insufficient evidence” to support calls for a moratorium on the industry’s expansion.

The inquiry was launched in June 2017 after Scottish government ministers said they wanted to see “sustainable growth” in the industry. It heard evidence from salmon farmers, scientists, academics as well as environmental groups and activists

The committee made 64 other recommendations on improving regulations for the sector. This Wednesday afternoon, ministers will discuss the report in Holyrood with any legislative impact to follow.

Issues raised
In response to the report, both the chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation Julie Hesketh-Laird and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing insisted that some of the issues raised were already being addressed – a point which will be echoed throughout the debate.

Welcomed
Looking ahead to the afternoon, Chief Executive of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre Heather Jones, said: “The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee’s (RECC) report into salmon farming reinforced SAIC’s view that everyone connected to Scottish aquaculture can agree on the need for the industry to be stable, well-regulated, animal-friendly, and scientifically robust. That’s why we welcomed its publication and focus on how aquaculture can deliver benefits to the Scottish economy and local communities.

“Innovation will be a critical part of how we take salmon farming forward and deliver on these ambitions. A great deal of work and investment is already being put into solving aquaculture’s challenges, from scaling up the use of cleaner fish to remove sea lice and improving fish vaccines, to developing new diagnostic techniques to assess fish wellbeing. SAIC has facilitated a total applied R&D investment of £39 million from public and industry sources, with more to come.

“Scotland is a pioneer in global aquaculture – that’s a position we want to maintain. The industry provides thousands of highly-skilled jobs to rural communities and produces a premium global export product to very high standards of environmental protection and fish husbandry. We look forward to the parliamentary debate as another step forward for aquaculture in Scotland.”