As we have already heard, f armed salmon is Scotland’s largest food export and our country is the third-largest farmed salmon producer in the world. The industry provides, directly and indirectly, more than 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs. According to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, farmed salmon is worth more than £540 million to the Scottish economy. In itself, that is why it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that our industry operates to the very highest standards and that nothing is done to damage its reputation. If its reputation takes a hit, everyone will lose.
To be fair, the major producers in the industry recognise that, which is why, in its briefing for members, its trade body, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, supports many of the overall aims and ambitions of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s report. I read the briefing quite differently from how John Finnie read it. The SSPO supports many of the committee’s recommendations, and I thought that John Finnie was a little unkind to it.
I want to highlight what I consider to be the main points of the committee’s report.
In recommendation 2, we say that we agree
“with the view of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) Committee that if the industry is to grow, the ‘status quo’ in terms of regulation and enforcement is not acceptable.”
Everybody who has spoken in the debate so far seems to have referred to that quote, but we have done so for obvious reasons. It is the key to the whole issue. I am pleased that the Scottish Government agrees with that. In its response to the committee, the Government says:
“if salmon farming is to continue to grow sustainably then effective procedures need to be in place to address and pre-empt, where possible, environmental and fish health challenges.”
I welcome that.