SNP: “We need to be prepared to explore everything that might be possible”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s party clarifies aquaculture aims.

Published on Thursday, the SNP, Scotland’s largest political party, published a manifesto ahead of the Scottish election on May 6th.

RAS sites
On page 57, it was indicated that this could mean that more RAS sites.

A SNP spokesperson confirmed to SalmonBusiness that support for hatcheries as well as land-based fish farms may be on the horizon.

“Both potentially, we already have a great track record of closed containment sites especially for hatcheries, but there are also countries looking at wholly closed-containment farms for the whole production cycle of fish (and not just or necessarily, salmon). We want Scotland to stay at the forefront of innovation and sustainable fish farming and we need to be prepared to explore everything that might be possible. We have knowledge and expertise and should want to use that to help provide healthy, sustainably produced sources of protein in the future,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon. PHOTO: SNP

Might not be do-able
In the manifesto, the SNP announced that it wanted “to cut the amount of unsustainably produced fish” being imported to Scotland”.

The spokesperson said this was not about salmon-producing countries “though we would always prefer people to be eating Scottish salmon”.

“We know there are increasing concerns about the carbon footprint and environmental impact involved in the production of fish and shellfish in warm water in some countries. We should be exploring whether we might be able to produce these more sustainably here in Scotland – it might not be do-able, but we should be open to the possibilities of what our undoubted expertise and knowledge can deliver,” she said.

No plans to transition
“Also, there is an economic imperative here, people like eating this sort of shellfish, as supermarket shelves increasing show, and it is a healthy protein, like salmon. We need to find ways to ensure that supply can continue that is sustainable for the long term and that might help create more jobs and opportunities here in Scotland,” she added.

The SNP spokesperson added there are no plans to transition traditional net-pen salmon farms to closed containment systems.