Frosty Reception For Shetland Visitors –

Frosty Reception For Shetland Visitors Fish Farming Today Published:  16 May, 2002

David Sandison, SSFA general manager

THE vast majority of Shetland salmon farmers have no intention of meeting representatives from the UK’s Crown Estate on a visit to the islands this week, acording to their association.

In Shetland alone, the Crown Estate Commission reaps over £850,000 in annual seabed rental from the industry with no significant re-investment, according to the farmers.

And they say they are not receptive to the visit and feel that the powers of the Crown Estate should be handed over to a locally accountable body that has the best interests of the local economy at heart and would ensure that any rental levied would be used to safeguard the long-term sustainability of salmon farming.

General manager of the Shetland Salmon Farmers Association, David Sandison said: “Farmers are unlikely to welcome the ‘landlords’ of the seabed to their farms while they continue to impose a substantial additional tax burden which has monumental implications for the future of the industry.

“Scottish salmon farmers are subject to normal corporation taxes and should not have to bear an additional financial responsibility which puts them at a distinct disadvantage to their competitors in other salmon producing countries. By regulating the industry at a local level, a body with public accountability can support the industry by investing any annual rental into the future viability and sustainability of the industry.”

“At a time when the Scottish Executive is looking at the competitiveness of the industry as part of a long-term strategy for aquaculture, we feel that an investigation into the administration of the annual rental is particularly crucial.

“The rental levied on salmon farmers needs to be used to build on the significant strides already being made in Shetland to protect the environment, ensure that our farming practices produce superior quality fish, and, in turn, develop our marketing and promotional efforts for the product.

Shetland’s MSP Tavish Scott will demonstrate his support for the industry when he meets with the delegation during their visit, he said: “I will be challenging the commissioners to recognise that their tax is increasingly seen as an insurmountable barrier to the development of the sustainable industry we need.”

The value of the industry to the economy of Shetland is more than £77 million; it is responsible for 1,046 direct and ancillary jobs on the islands and generates wealth for a wide range of the service sector.

(For more on Shetland see our area focus in the July issue of Fish Farming Today. Subscribe today!)