For the first time since the launch of the renewed framework for aquaculture, the ministerial working group has heard recommendations for a sustainable Scottish aquaculture industry.
Proposals from the Ministerial Group on Aquaculture include:
- Development of a Scottish technical standard for fish farm equipment, including moorings, cages, and nets, to minimise escapes of fish, to be consulted on in summer 2011
- Recommendations on strengthening of the industry's approach to sea-lice and disease control, through synchronised production and treatments
- An agreed statement of practice on handling planning applications for aquaculture developments. This document is to clarify the statutory role of SEPA, SNH, Marine Scotland Science and the District Salmon Fishery Boards in the planning process
- Plans to host an international aquaculture conference in Scotland next summer which will reinforce our international standing and provide our companies with business opportunities by attracting the major players in world aquaculture.
Speaking in Edinburgh on yesterday (23 June), Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "Aquaculture accounts for almost 40 per cent of Scotland's total food exports, with a farm gate price of £400 million. In fact, the Scottish salmon industry tells us that in the next five years their sector can grow by £150 million and create up to 400 jobs. We have an aquaculture industry we should be greatly proud of and one which we need to support and develop.
"Last year I launched A Fresh Start, a renewed strategic framework for aquaculture. Yesterday, the chairs of my working groups reported the excellent progress all groups have made in the last six months. I am heartened and feel energised by what the future holds for Scotland's aquaculture.
"For the first time, we have introduced regular conversation between key players in the shellfish industry and its regulators to address sustainable growth. Mussel production in Scotland grew by 22 per cent to almost 6,000 tonnes between 2007 and 2008. Through the European Fisheries Fund in 2009, the Scottish Government granted funds to the mussel sector which should lead to a further 1,400 tonnes production.
"The Scottish Government wants to strengthen the aquaculture industry's approach and understanding of sea-lice and disease control. I welcome and will consider carefully the Healthier Fish and Shellfish group's recommendations on the matter. The work of this group is critical to ensuring that Scotland retains its good fish health status as the industry grows. "
"The Improved Containment group is carrying out incredibly important work, developing a Scottish technical standard for freshwater and marine fish-farming equipment, to minimise escapes. The group will commission work through the Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF) to develop this, and will consult on proposals in summer 2011. Industry will be involved at all stages development.
"We will host an international aquaculture conference next summer which will reinforce our international standing and provide our companies with business opportunities by attracting the major players in world aquaculture to Scotland. This will benefit our producers directly by addressing topics of direct relevance to them."