Regulation of salmon farming in Scotland needs a new approach and less duplication, MSPs were told yesterday. The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee was meeting regulators and industry representatives to assess progress in the two years since a major report on fish farming by the Scottish Parliament came out in 2018.
Tavish Scott, CEO of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) said: “Scotland must improve its productivity. That is why, rather than asking for less regulation we look for better, more efficient regulation.”
Also at the committee session, the SSPO’s sustainability director Anne Anderson commented that “streamlining” is an issue in planning applications , whether for a new site, increased biomass or replacing equipment. Often, she said, operators face three or four approval processes in parallel, with the lead regulator in one process called in to give evidence at another.
Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: “This is one of the most difficult sectors to regulate… but we do believe we’re making good progress in a number of ways.”
The MSPs asked why, despite it being one of the recommendations of the 2018 report, there had been no formal move towards setting out a strategic plan for which coastal areas are suitable or unsuitable for fish farming, rather than reacting to planning applications as at present.
The committee also quizzed regulators, the SSPO and Mowi Scotland managing director Ben Hadfield on a range of issues including fish mortality, the monitoring of wild salmon health, fish escapes, the industry’s recent published sustainability charter A Better Future For Us All and whether the projected growth in the industry in Scotland is compatible with protecting the environment.