Dialogue lifts Scottish aquaculture


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
July 19, 2010

Recommendations from an open dialogue on Scotland’s GBP 400 million (USD 610 million, EUR 473 million) aquaculture industry articulate improved disease controls and a technical standard for fish-farm equipment among key measures for sustainable growth — growth that the salmon industry says would bring significant gains.

“The Scottish salmon industry tells us that in the next five years their sector can grow by GBP 150 million and create up to 400 jobs,” said Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s environment minister.

Speaking recently in Edinburgh, Cunningham announced the first recommendations arising from the strategic framework for aquaculture that she launched in 2009. Overseen by the Ministerial Group on Aquaculture (MGA), the framework is based on six forums: healthier fish and shellfish, better systems for licensing, better containment, better marketing, better access to finance and shellfish.
According to a statement from the Scottish government, the group will commission work through the Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF) and will consult on proposals in summer 2011; the industry will be involved at all stages development.

Among the proposals so far are the development of a technical standard for fish-farm equipment, including moorings, cages and nets, to minimize fish escapes of fish and the standardization of the application process, clarifying the statutory roles of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland Science and Scotland’s 41 District Salmon Fishery Boards.

And, in terms of market expansion, the MGA recommended hosting an international aquaculture conference in Scotland next summer that would reinforce the country’s international standing.

“I am heartened and feel energized by what the future holds for Scotland's aquaculture,” said Cunningham. “We have introduced regular conversation between key players in the shellfish industry and its regulators to address sustainable growth.”

Aquaculture is big business for Scotland, with a farm-gate price of GBP 400 million. Aquaculture accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country’s total food exports.

Atlantic salmon marks the largest swathe of production, with 257 marine sites producing 128,606 metric tons in 2008, while shellfish production is dominated by mussels, with 5,869 metric tons produced in 2008. Mussel production in Scotland grew 22 percent between 2007 and 2008.

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