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Nick Joy is not against regulation but, he argues, it would be good to have a clear timetable for any reforms.

Here I am, sitting on a big ferry, returning from a week in Portugal. Ferries are hardly new to me, but it’s somewhat comfortable being on a known commodity returning from a holiday that several years ago would have seemed utterly normal. Now with tests here and there, mask rules variable and endless forms to fill in, we feel like we have been on a safari to deepest, darkest Africa. Nevertheless, the change has been wonderful and the people wonderfully welcoming.

Oh, and very importantly, those of you who have been selling Scottish salmon to Portugal should be lauded, as your reputation is high and the restaurants and hotels produce some very good salmon meals. We spent plenty of time sampling and checking the quality of both food and wine there and salmon was regularly on the menu.

Whilst away I still receive the questions asked in the Scottish Parliament which are pertinent to me. They come through a quite circuitous route, but are a great source of information. I was utterly delighted to see that the Scottish Government sees fish farming as “an essential part of our green recovery and transition to net zero”.

What a wonderful thing to read after all of these years! What a lovely surprise and how different an approach to the public when compared with all of the many years I have been around this industry. It is also an accolade both to the industry’s performance and its liaison with the Scottish Government. So from someone now far detached from the front line, it is extremely pleasing to see.

I cannot but wonder how this sits with the current pact between the SNP and the Greens when you take into consideration one of the other questions (not asked by a Green MSP): “To ask the Scottish Government whether it will publish the terms of reference of the external review of the regulatory process involved in fish farming, to be conducted by Professor Russel Griggs.”

Oh how well I remember the endless reviews of regulation, government questions, criticism of the industry and then subsequently the endless and relentless pressure to ensure that the proposed regulation didn’t derail either the current production or all future growth of the industry.

The Greens were certainly some of the worst detractors and critics, and so I guess this subject falls into the area they have detailed in their release where they will agree to disagree with the SNP. Hopefully the larger party will dominate!

Whilst I am not of the opinion that our industry should be unregulated, I so often wish that government knew just how much management time goes into trying to ensure logical control. If I could have had just half of that time back, there is so much more we could have done as a company. I’m sure that many in the current industry would feel the same.

Of course, our industry would grow illogically and unsustainably if completely unregulated, as all industries would. In a democracy it is also inevitable that questions will be asked of any industry, especially by those representatives who are not in government.

Those MSPs who are often lobbied by opposing industries believe that they are representing their constituency too, so it is perfectly reasonable that these questions should be asked from that aspect as well.


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