AQUACULTURE in Scotland provides world class products that have the potential to contribute £3.6 billion annually to the Scottish economy, supporting 18,000 jobs across the supply chain by 2030, said Rural Economy minister Fergus Ewing in response to a question in the Scottish parliament today.
He also welcomed news that sea lice levels during quarter 4 were the lowest since 2013, in figures published by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.
The minister was asked by Labour list MSP for South Scotland, Claudia Beamish, about the ‘welfare assessments of delousing treatments and the success or otherwise of cleaner fish’ as the industry develops.
Ewing (pictured) said the forthcoming consultation on the new licensing framework ‘will seek to help aquaculture to expand, within sustainable limits’.
‘The sector, supported by the Scottish government, must strive to be a world leader in innovation and demonstrate a global model for sustainable growth,’ he said.
‘At the same time, we need to ensure that there are appropriate measures in place to protect Scotland’s water environment from any adverse impacts.’
Tavish Scott, the Lib Dem MSP for Shetland, said: ‘I hope that the cabinet secretary accepts that fish farming is one of the most regulated industries in Scotland and that it needs to be supported through that regulation.
‘On Claudia Beamish’s point, does the cabinet secretary acknowledge that the North Atlantic Fisheries College marine centre in Scalloway is undertaking field trials into the use of lumpsucker fish as a mechanism for dealing with sea lice, which are a grave problem for the industry?
‘Is that the way forward that he foresees for the industry? Will he ensure that his research funds support such initiatives?’
The minister said he agreed with the Shetland MSP and, having recently visited Shetland and Fort William on the west coast, ‘was able to speak to people about the success that fish farming in Scotland is generating for our most rural communities, where there are not many obvious employment alternatives’.
‘I think that Tavish Scott would agree that salmon is the most climate friendly food, with—as far as I know—the lowest carbon footprint of any food in the world. It is a great Scottish success story and we are determined to write new chapters thereanent.’