Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:55 pm on 1st March 2007.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 4:55 pm, 1st March 2007

The Executive's view is that the code is extremely useful and the vast majority of aquaculture companies are fully signed up to it. However, not absolutely everybody is and we want to ensure that there is pressure to do so and to push up standards throughout the industry.

Eleanor Scott mentioned escapes. The bill is absolutely clear that fish farms must have satisfactory measures in place for the containment of fish—an enforcement notice can be served if they do not. It is an offence if a fish farmer does not take the necessary steps set out in the notice.

There has to be a tough back-stop when there is not effective management.

A range of other issues have been raised, such as GS. The contingency plan was tested last month, in which all relevant stakeholders were involved. The process requires to be fine tuned. Although no major flaws were identified, we all agree that the last thing any of us wants is GS to move into Scotland. The precautionary measures, the publicity, posters and leaflets are crucial in getting across to people the message that we cannot afford to let GS enter Scotland.

Richard Lochhead asked a specific question about the available money. He referred to the sum of £36 million. That would be the cost of putting in disinfectant points at all ports, not the publicity that we are putting in place. I hope that colleagues will be happy to support and disseminate that in their constituencies.

This has been a good debate. I reiterate that we recognise the importance of aquaculture and freshwater fisheries in Scotland. They are incredibly important economically. They support many jobs in rural communities throughout Scotland, and they support our tourism industry by attracting people to Scotland to enjoy our wonderful natural environment. Continued strong commitment from the Scottish Executive and the public sector, working with the aquaculture and freshwater fisheries industries, is the way forward.

I welcome the consensus that has grown around the bill. All that remains is for the Parliament to formally support the motion.