Paul Wheelhouse visits the Gael Force Group and AKVA Scotland Group14 April, 2014 –
The Scottish Government Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse who also has responsibility for Aquaculture visited the Gael Force Group and AKVA Scotland Group in Inverness on Friday 7th of March.
The objective of the visit was for the minister and Alastair Mitchell who is head of the Scottish Governments Aquaculture Unit to see for themselves the positive impact Scottish Aquaculture has on the Highland and wider Scottish economy through an extensive supply chain which some reports say creates or supports over 10 jobs for every one on a sea farming site. The minister met with the senior management team at Gael Force and toured their extremely busy engineering yard which is currently building feeding barges for Marine Harvest and the Scottish Salmon Company and have another, before getting a tour of the new AKVA Group Scotland premises in Inverness.Gael Force Groups owner Stewart Graham said We very much appreciate the minister and his team taking the time to visit Gael Force. The whole management team were impressed with Mr Wheelhouses knowledge of the industry and its positive economic impacts across Scotland and particularly the governments commitment to sustainability growing the Scottish Aquaculture industry further in the future. For companies like Gael Force to invest further and create more jobs we need to be sure there is a sustainable long term growth strategy in place beyond the 2017 target of 210,000 tonnes. We were encouraged that the government are listening to this concern and that the sustainable development of Scottish Aquaculture, including measures to reduce the risk of escapes, is high on the Governments agenda. I firmly believe that if the Scottish Aquaculture industry does all it can to maintain and extend its focus on quality and sustainable development that the Scottish Government will support further growth and this has to be good for all the stakeholders in the industryDuring the visit to AKVA Group Scotland, they toured AGSs newly extended facility at over 10,000 sq ft with new dedicated workshops and development department adding five new staff to increase the support and service workforce to 37 employees. During the visit the management team demonstrated the part their equipment plays in helping the farmers meet their performance, containment and environmental objectives. The company also employs 6 staff at the Polarcirkel pen manufacturing site at Kishorn in Ross-shire ideally located to many local farming sites.Douglas Johnson AKVA group Scotlands Sales Director added Technological innovation is crucial to the development of any industry, particularly one as young as ours. I think the Minister was intrigued to find that it is estimated that 50% of the total value creation of aquaculture industry stems from the core value chain – the remaining value creation stems from direct and indirect services to the core industries, including technology and service providers.It is critical that all stake holders are working together to solve the challenges in growing our industry.Like Stewart, we were very encouraged by the Minister and his teams understanding of the businesss needs to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry, and add our thanks to the Minister and his team for making the time to visit.