An area management agreement covering 14 salmon rivers, and the smaller islands of Scalpay, Raasay, Rona, Soay, Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck, has been heralded as a 'milestone' and aims to quash the conflict between fish farmers, environmentalists and the regions anglers.
The deal has been forged out of a successful Tripartite Working Group programme that has brokered agreements between local aquaculture and wild fisheries interests throughout the west coast of Scotland and the Western Isles. It is the largest of all area management agreements now operating in Scotland and covers a substantial salmon farming and fishing region.
Scottish Minister for Environment Michael Russell welcomed the move. He said it marked a significant step towards bringing together profitable sectors of the salmon industry to co-exist in a sustainable manner.
"This agreement aims to ensure that healthy stocks of wild fish and farmed fish are maintained. It will help minimise escapes of farmed salmon and support a vibrant aquaculture industry," he said.
Sid Patten, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, said the agreement clearly demonstrated the salmon farming industry's commitment to protecting the health of both wild and farmed fish.
"It has long-term, mutual benefits and will also help to build a better understanding among the various users of the marine environment," he said.
A working group involving representative of the farmed and wild fish sectors was set up in 1999 against the background of declining stocks of wild salmon and sea trout. It aimed to protect and develop the wild stocks, while also promoting a sustainable salmon farming industry.