Work to reform Scotland’s aquaculture regulatory processes is underway with the first meeting of a new strategic advisory group.
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 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.”
Dr Clare Cavers, Scottish Environment LINK representative, said:
“LINK is looking forward to engaging with this group - we feel it is essential that Scotland’s aquaculture industry achieve true environmental sustainability and to do so it is critical that the process supports and delivers meaningful, transformative change in the industry. This is a once in a generation opportunity to shape the industry to achieve that goal within the constraints of the interlinked climate emergency and nature crisis.”
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland said:
“Professor Griggs published his review in February. It sets out a detailed route map to better regulation that works for salmon farmers, local communities, government and society. The task is of the Ministerial led Council meeting in June, is to deliver that new framework and do so within 12 months as Professor Griggs recommends.
“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.”
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, into the effectiveness and efficiency of the current regime, published in February 2022 and including recommendations for further work.
Other government commitments relevant to aquaculture include a commitment to develop a Vision and strategy for sustainable aquaculture that places an enhanced emphasis on environmental protection and community benefits. Further, the government has committed to and is progressing an immediate programme of work to better protect wildlife and the environment. Our natural environment - Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party: draft shared policy programme - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands set out the Scottish Government’s initial response at the Aquaculture UK conference, delivering a speech which announced the formation of a strategic forum on aquaculture (now the Scottish Aquaculture Council): Aquaculture sector: speech by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
This initial meeting will be followed by a second meeting in the autumn.
List of Invited Members Organisations
Ms Gougeon – Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands - CHAIR
Ms McAllan – Minister for Environment and Land Reform
Salmon Scotland (plus 2 industry representatives)
British Trout Association
Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers
Scottish Seaweed Industry Association
Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre
Fisheries Management Scotland
Scottish Environment – LINK
Marine Conservation Society
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Crown Estate Scotland
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
Marine Scotland Directorate, Scottish Government
Environment and Forestry Directorate, Scottish Government
Chief Planner, Scottish Government
Chief Scientific Adviser, Scottish Government
Chief Veterinary Officer, Scottish Government
The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.