Study to enhance salmon sustainability in Scotland

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
24 July 2007, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND - The Scottish salmon farming industry is to embark on the first-ever industry-wide assessment of the sectors sustainability.

Entitled ‘Sustainability in Scottish salmon aquaculture: key components and drivers’, independent experts from the fields of the environment, energy, economic and social impact, and aquaculture are to identify challenges facing the industry and recommend solutions to enhance the sector’s performance.

Commissioned by the industry’s trade body Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO), in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the study will cover waste generated within the production cycle, energy utilisation, carbon emissions and the socio-economic benefits of the industry.

An Aquaculture Sustainability Working Group will be established to assist the development of the study, and will comprise representatives from regulatory bodies, environmental NGOs, enterprise agencies and industry.

Focusing on the farming element of the business, the study will incorporate primary research, a literature review and a desk study. An assessment of how the Scottish salmon farming sector compares with other food producing businesses will also be included.

Sid Patten, Chief Executive of SSPO, said that this wide-ranging assessment of the industry’s sustainability” would be integral to its on-going development.

“We are seeking to identify the issues included within the three pillars of sustainability – social, economic and the environment – to further enhance the salmon sector’s environmental performance and socio-economic contribution. Salmon farming is already a significant contributor to rural areas, where businesses sustain many small, remote communities,” said Mr Patten.

He said investment in research and development, the introduction of environmental management systems and the adoption of new technologies will make sure the industry continues to progress and improve production efficiency along with environmental benefits.

Unusual project
Mark Taylor, Thistle Environmental, a lead consultant on the project, said that while many companies and public sector organisations are now carrying out sustainability assessments, this project is unusual. "This assessment considers the sector as a whole. It is a proactive, forward looking and valuable project,” he added

The Highlands and Islands Enterprise said that the Scottish salmon farming industry had always sought to minimise its environmental impacts.

"It is now clear that this industry, which has sustained many remote communities over the last 30 years, must also consider the wider environmental consequences of operating a global business," said Sandy Cumming, HIE Chief Executive. "Scottish salmon as a product has an enviable reputation with consumers. This can be enhanced still further by identifying ways that it can be produced using methods that are as environmentally sustainable as possible, he added.

It is expected that the assessment results will inform on current salmon farming practice, assist in the preparation of environmental impact assessments, inform customers and give background for communication with the public on the sustainability of the Scottish salmon farming sector. It may also identify areas for further research and development.