Scottish government to directly oversee next phase of aquaculture industry review

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Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, has announced that she will personally oversee the next phase of the Griggs report’s review into Scotland’s aquaculture.

Speaking at the Aquaculture UK event in Aviemore, Gougeon stated that she will launch a new ministerial aquaculture strategy forum to help “shape and deliver” Scotland’s ambitions for the sector and help address the challenges it faces. Amid the difficulties highlighted by Gougeon were the long-term effects of Brexit and the more recent challenges caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

“I want Scotland’s aquaculture regulatory regime to be regarded as one of the most efficient, but also one of the most effective and transparent in the world,” Gougeon stated.

“The report recognises the unique challenges and opportuniteis that are faced by different types of aquaculture, recommending different regulatory frameworks for finfish, shellfish and seaweed, while also stressing the importance of consistency of process”, Gougeon outlined. In her address, she accepted that there are “steps [the Scottish government] can take to make rapid improvement.”

Speaking to SalmonBusiness at the conference, when asked what the timeframe for implementing the recommendations within the review would be, Gougeon didn’t provide a target date.

Citing the planned forum with industry stakeholders, Gougeon claimed that it was being established to help “drive forward the work on the recommendations.” “We know that some of the recommendations will be quicker and easier to implement,” Gougeon admitted, but “some of the others will need to be teased out in more details.”

One of the changes Gougeon revealed Scotland will be making is extending the marine licence renewal period for finfish and shellfish farms from 6 to 25 years, bringing it into line with the Crown Estate lease cycle. This change is designed to reduce the burden on the industry without compromising environmental standards.

The Griggs report was commissioned in 2021 by the Scottish government to conduct an independent review into the aquaculture sector, examining the regulatory landscape, gathering stakeholder opinions and recommend actions to improve the industry. This was the first phase of a review that, Gougeon describes as having a “broad remit.”

Read also: Salmon Scotland reveals three challenges hurting Scottish producers

Speaking to SalmonBusiness back in March, Salmon Scotland highlighted the importance of implementing the Griggs report, citing regulatory challenges as one of the biggest issues facing the sector.

“The Griggs reports demonstrates this, that the regulatory environment in Scotland at the moment is not conducive to the sustainable growth of the sector,” Scott stated at the time. “Instead of having four regulators acting independently of each other and hardly speaking,” he explained, calling for the implementation of Professor Griggs’s recommendations.