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Western Isles Fish Farming Impresses Minister

SCOTLAND - Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson has been impressed by aquaculture businesses based in the Hebrides, during a series of engagements undertaken this week.

Mr Stevenson has spent time with aquaculture companies while he also met with representatives of the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust.

The Minister visited the Scottish Salmon Company, including their newly refurbished processing plant in Stornoway, the Geocrab freshwater Hatchery in South Harris, and the company's farm at Loch Roag. The Minister also toured the facilities of Hebridean Mussels in Uig - one of Scotland's leading mussel producers - and visited Marine Harvest's facilities at Loch Erisort.

Mr Stevenson said: "Across Scotland the aquaculture industry is growing and, particularly in remote rural communities, it is making an important local contribution, both economic and social. That's certainly the case in the Hebrides where it has a key role to play, as I have discovered over the past few days."

"Scotland has a well-deserved reputation for producing high quality farmed salmon and last year the industry accounted for some 40 per cent of all our food exports - worth over £400 million. Other markets, such as mussels, have great potential and the clean waters off the West Coast of Scotland are perfect for this fast-growing industry."

"My visits in Lewis and Harris to The Scottish Salmon Company, Hebridean Mussels and Marine Harvest have been highly rewarding and informative, while I also held a productive meeting with the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust. These visits have emphasised the importance of balancing growth of the aquaculture industry with the need to safeguard the wider marine environment."

Stewart McLelland, The Scottish Salmon Company's Chief Operating Officer, said: "We were delighted the Minister used his summer tour to visit the Hebrides and learn more about this dynamic and growing sector and the role it plays in rural communities."

"He had the opportunity to see at first-hand key facilities in our sustainable, integrated supply chain in the Hebrides and gain insights into the vital role that salmon farming plays in the Islands' economies."

"Overall the visit was an excellent chance for Mr Stevenson to see first-hand some of the opportunities and challenges facing the salmon farming industry in the west of Scotland and I am confident that Mr Stevenson found it most beneficial."

Aquaculture accounts for almost 40 per cent of the value of Scotland's food exports, with production worth around £434 million per year. Alongside Norway and Chile, Scotland is a top three global producer of farmed Atlantic Salmon. Mussel production in Scotland is expanding, with rapid growth over the past three years.

the Fish Site Editor

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