Salmon farms ‘highly regulated’

THE Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) has defended the industry’s ‘highly regulated production environment’ following the publication of a damning report into the sector’s environmental credentials.
A Holyrood committee concluded that Scotland’s marine ecosystem faces ‘irrecoverable damage’ from salmon farming if environmental concerns are not addressed.
The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform committee, which took evidence last month from environmental campaigners, scientists from the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and the SSPO, said fish mortality was at ‘unacceptable levels’.
Its report, released this morning, insisted that ‘the status quo is not an option’.
The SSPO said in a statement: ‘We note the committee’s report into the impact of salmon farming. We welcome the committee’s clear support for the aquaculture sector, of which salmon farming makes up 95 per cent.
‘We look forward to contributing to the Rural Economy and Connectivity committee’s forthcoming inquiry that will explore the industry’s potential and how to address challenges in more depth.
‘Scottish salmon is known globally for its quality and locally for the important contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. The industry has developed over the past 40 years to achieve its status as the UK’s top food export.
‘This has been within a highly regulated production environment. The industry’s strong regulatory compliance was borne out by our regulators as part of their evidence to this inquiry.
‘We recognise that marine conditions are changing and bringing new challenges to fish health and environmental management that are different to those that faced the industry’s forerunners.
‘The sector spends around £10 million per year in research and over £50 million in new equipment and techniques to understand and manage health and environmental problems.
‘However, we accept that progress must be better demonstrated and we are working with the support of the Scottish government, SEPA and scientific bodies to make better headway.
‘While the industry is ambitious to grow, we recognise that such growth must be sustainable for the long term.
‘Growth of farming systems must go hand in hand with environmental sustainability and the Scottish salmon farming industry remains committed to finding solutions to ensure that it continues to provide employment and economic success for rural Scotland.’