Salmon Farming

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

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Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

The office window of Dennis and Katrine Johnson at Uyeasound in Unst looks out over a pristine marine landscape. They have been working in this industry for many years, for a variety of companies, and they would not recognise some of the things that have been said in the debate—they certainly would not recognise that last speech and the allegations of deliberate malpractice by people in the industry.

A lot of people do not seem to know the history of salmon farming. It started as a small crofting business in lots of part of Scotland, including on the west coast, and the industry is now owned largely by international companies. It has changed overwhelmingly. However, what has not changed is the number of people who are employed by the industry in parts of Scotland who simply would not have jobs if salmon farming did not exist. Unst, Yell and Fetlar are the best examples of that that I know of anywhere in Scotland. Salmon farming accounts for 110 direct jobs on those islands and any number of hundreds of indirect jobs. Those jobs and the communities on those islands would not exist were it not for that industry. The idea that those people deliberately pollute and deliberately do nothing about the issues of sea lice, mortality and so on is a line of argument that I simply do not recognise.