Leading politicians back aquaculture’s future

Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Employment and Investment

Politicians from two parties have voiced their support for Scotland’s salmon sector at the Aquaculture UK trade show this week.

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar and the SNP’s Employment and Investment Minister, Tom Arthur, were among those to attend the Aquaculture UK trade show, the UK’s biggest aquaculture event, in Aviemore.

Representing the Scottish Government, Tom Arthur (pictured) formally opened the event on Tuesday. He said in his welcome speech: “Aquaculture is a major contributor to our economy – providing well-paid jobs and careers, including for young people and particularly in our rural and island communities – and can support us to deliver across the range of the Scottish Government’s key policy priorities.

“We are committed to delivering increased employment and investment in Scotland. Our policy is to support sustainable growth, in the right places, and it will remain so as we work together to promote the benefits that the sector delivers for Scotland while ensuring protection for our shared natural environment.”

He added: “We see a bright future for aquaculture… Scotland is open for business”.

Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands – who includes fisheries and aquaculture in her brief – had been due to open Aquaculture UK, but was unable to attend as she was called to a meeting of the new Cabinet convened by the recently appointed First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney.

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar at the Salmon Scotland AGM

Anas Sarwar, who addressed the Salmon Scotland AGM at Aviemore, said Scottish salmon is a key part of “Brand Scotland”, contributing to inward investment and exports.

He also officially launched the Young Aquaculture Society, a new network for young people to develop connections and discover employment opportunities.

Speaking after his visit to Aquaculture UK, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The Scottish salmon sector creates thousands of jobs here in Scotland and generates hundreds of millions of pounds for the economy.

“The salmon in our waters are a key part of ‘Brand Scotland’, contributing to inward investment and exports.

“Food and drink should be viewed as an economic asset, and we need to build the right business environment in Scotland to help sectors like this thrive with responsible growth and high animal welfare standards.

“It’s vital that Scotland is seen as open for business, and a Labour government will prioritise economic growth so that we can deliver more high-skilled jobs, enable rural communities to flourish, and invest more in public services.”

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, added: “The Scottish salmon sector rightly enjoys cross-party political support in the Scottish parliament, and our members appreciated hearing from Anas and Tom – especially after a few weeks of political turmoil in Holyrood.

“The theme of this year’s AGM was ‘growing salmon, growing Scotland’, because when we grow salmon we are employing thousands of people, contributing hundreds of millions to the Scottish economy, and helping to put Scotland on the world map through our globally-recognised and renowned product – the country’s top food export.”

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