SCOTLAND’S biggest salmon farmer said recommendations by MSPs on the future of the sector will help guide responsible growth to satisfy demand for its products.
The Scottish parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee report on salmon farming released 65 recommendations in its report, published today, covering regulation, environmental impacts, fish health and expansion.
Marine Harvest managing director Ben Hadfield said: ‘While acknowledging the economic and food contribution the salmon farming sector provides, the committee recommends several important regulatory improvements that will help guide responsible growth of our business.
‘We are pleased to see the committee’s appreciation for salmon farming’s contribution to our domestic and export foods, and the sustainability of rural communities.
‘We also acknowledge, and agree with, the committee’s statement that the future of the sector’s regulatory regime will not be the status quo.
‘We would expect our regulatory system to advance along with and, in fact, lead sector development.’
Hadifeld added that, like all farming, ‘we have our challenges that need to be addressed, and focus on reducing negative impacts should remain top priority for the business and its regulators’.
Marine Harvest said, in a statement on its website, that it is pleased to see recommendations for continued improvement to: consumer education, data reporting, organic waste management, fish health, monitoring and regulatory enforcement, workforce development and housing, strategic siting guidance, science funding, and collaboration between farmed and wild fish sectors.
‘While some committee recommendations are already being led by Marine Harvest (wrasse culture, sea lice reporting, wild fish sector collaboration), there are new initiatives the company will look forward to collaborating on with key stakeholders.’
Meanwhile, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) also welcomes the incentive the report gives to growth in the industry.
Heather Jones, chief executive of SAIC, said: ‘The Rural Economy and Connectivity committee report means, as a collective, the aquaculture sector can now focus its attention on delivering sustainable growth in an increasingly important area of Scotland’s economy.
‘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.
‘Further innovation will be a critical part of how we take salmon farming forward, with SAIC playing a critical role in bringing universities and industry together to maintain Scotland’s position as a pioneer in global aquaculture.
‘Working with the Scottish government and other stakeholders, we will also continue our work with the delivery of the 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework which, along with the many research and development projects that are already underway across the country, will support many of the report’s recommendations.’
Picture: Marine Harvest managing director Ben Hadfield giving evidence at the REC inquiry in May