Aquaculture for all

New strategic advisory group will work to reform Scotland's aquaculture sector

Atlantic Salmon Husbandry NGO +10 more

The Scottish Aquaculture Council, an advisory body that includes senior leaders from the industry, environmental groups and rural communities, has held its first meeting as it works to reform Scotland’s aquaculture regulatory processes.

Atlantic salmon pen

The Scottish Government has committed to reform and streamline aquaculture regulatory processes © Scottish Sea Farms

Bringing together senior representatives from key organisations with interests in the industry and its environmental and community impacts, the Scottish Aquaculture Council will provide advice to help the Scottish Government realise its aspirations for the sector.

The Scottish Government has committed to reform and streamline aquaculture regulatory processes so that development is more responsive, transparent and efficient. This began with an independent review conducted by Professor Russel Griggs that concluded that Scotland's current regulatory regime is not fit for purpose and must be streamlined. The review, which was published in February 2022, including recommendations for further work.

The Council will offer views and advice to assist Ministers in delivering commitments and to help ensure that the aquaculture industry is supported, innovative and achieves its full potential while operating within environmental limits. Members will also provide views to help inform the development of the government’s new vision for sustainable aquaculture, which will be published by the end of the year.

Chaired by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, the first meeting will include discussions with Professor Griggs, the author of an independent review of the aquaculture regulatory process. Ms Gougeon said:

“Today is a significant step toward a stronger and more sustainable future for Scotland’s aquaculture industry. Aquaculture is a significant employer in Scotland’s rural and coastal communities and its wider UK and global supply chain. It provides well paid jobs and produces healthy, quality food that is enjoyed worldwide.

“The sector can only truly be a sustainable success story if we work together to address and mitigate any impacts on the natural environment, whilst providing positive outcomes for Scotland’s communities. The Scottish Aquaculture Council will help ensure that Scotland’s aquaculture industry is diverse, competitive and economically viable – achieving its full potential and protecting a thriving marine ecosystem for future generations.”

According to a news release from Salmon Scotland, the industry is growing at about 1.4 percent per year, but Norway’s sector is growing at three times that rate.

Their analysis states that Norway has a single "one stop shop" for licensing and community benefit, while Scotland’s licensing regime means that more than £20 million per year is due to be paid by salmon farmers to various regulators and delays in the planning system are holding back sustainable growth.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland said:

“The sector today, employing more than 10,000 people across the supply chain, is light years from the cottage industry that emerged on the west coast more than 50 years ago. The Council will play a crucial role in shaping that long-term vision for the next 50 years and develop a sustainable aquaculture sector that continues to grow responsibly and support coastal jobs and livelihoods in some of our most fragile, rural communities.”