In pursuit of large-scale expansion, Scottish salmon farms see no catch.



The Scottish salmon industry is a success story with great potential for growth with its low carbon footprint and world-renowned products, explains the current chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Tavish Scott. Colin Cardwell by

Scots have become very familiar with the idea of the green economy with the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) coming up next year and the ambitious target of the Scottish government of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

However, the blue economy – the sustainable use of marine resources for economic development while protecting the health of our marine and coastal habitats – is undeniably one of Scotland’s main assets, says Tavish Scott, newly named executive director of the Organization of Scottish Salmon Producers.

The salmon farming industry is one capable of producing safe and balanced fish from the sea and is Scotland’s number one food export, one with substantial growth prospects, adds the former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and MSP, who claims the industry has “an incredibly good environmental story to tell, with a low carbon footprint, low consumption of freshwater and high conversion rates of feed.”

At a time when the country is still coping with the coronavirus pandemic and grappling with the continuing turmoil of Brexit, this is obviously good news for the economy. “I would argue strongly that the farmed fish sector is one of our brightest lights in terms of getting through a very difficult economic time for the country, and it is building on its already considerable expertise for the future,”

“He has the potential to operate sustainably and responsibly and produce a product that is in high demand not only from customers in Scotland and across the UK, but internationally.”

Salmon farming has brought benefits to many far-flung places where there are simply no other employment, from the Northern Isles to the North Coast and the Western Highlands to the Outer Hebrides and Argyll and the Clyde.

The rural economy relies heavily on the farmed fish industry,” says Scott, who highlights the sector’s benefits. “The average annual income of 37,000 pounds is for those who work in it, and no other aspect of the economy brings that pay level to these regions. And in addition to the 2,500 directly employed in fish farms, there are another 10,000 in Scotland working in the sector.

In turn, many of them, he notes, operate in rural and island areas, depending on a supply chain of 3,500 companies that earn between £ 6 million and £ 7 million in investment per year from the industry.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Association published “A Better Future For Us All,” earlier this month to highlight these benefits and align the fish farming industry with the communities it serves, a new charter that lays out the sustainability standards that the sector strives to achieve in the coming decades, including a pledge to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, to source all feed from sustainable feed.

Scott says that the central message of the Sustainability Charter is simple: “Scotland produces the best salmon in the world to the highest standards, but we want to remain the best in the world, so we’re going to go further and set higher targets to stay at the top.”

He adds that he has far-reaching goals with objectives that cover every aspect of fish farming, from fish health to people employed in the field, and from the product itself to employee career growth.

“It is a strategy that fits into the broader sustainable economy, including the growth of the oil and gas industry in the North Sea. “Shetland has definitely benefited from 40 years of production of oil and gas, which was a key driver of economic success,” Scott says. “That is changing now, both in terms of the decrease in production of fossil fuels and a positive change in the industry with a strategic Shi’a.

“This has two consequences for salmon farming in places such as Shetland: One is that seafood is becoming increasingly important, both in terms of value to the economy and to the people who work in it. I also think that if the salmon farming industry is going to grow fish farms in deeper waters and remain more exposed


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