Salmon Farming

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I will come to mortality in a minute. I was dealing with sea lice and want to finish the point, which is important.

I can advise today that we will complete a review of our sea lice compliance regime this spring. I will not prejudge the outcome of that review, which will be conducted by experts and will be evidence based, as is absolutely appropriate and right. However, it is important to say that I expect that the regime will be tightened, which will provide assurance to all interests—including fish farm businesses—that our fish health inspectorate is working effectively to tackle sea lice infestations.

Finally, independent of the Government, SEPA has published its draft “Finfish Aquaculture Sectoral Plan” and its response to the REC Committee.

John Finnie asked about mortality. I am pleased to say that mortalities are reducing in many instances, as are sea lice numbers. However, again, we are not complacent and more needs to be done. That is precisely why the fish health framework and the four groups that I mentioned, which have been doing a huge amount of work, are also considering the matter. We will also take interim steps to produce an environmental monitoring plan to be delivered as a condition of consents for marine aquaculture planning applications.

Going forward, it is key that everyone has confidence in a regulatory framework that encompasses the principles of adaptive management, best use of scientific evidence and clear advice to decision-makers, which stands up to scrutiny.

I see that my time is running dry. I will therefore skip three pages of my speech out of consideration for the Presiding Officer and, perhaps, others.