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New inquiry into Scottish salmon farming

Publication: The Lochside Press

Holyrood’s Rural Affairs & Islands (RAI) Committee has announced a follow-up inquiry to ask if recommendations made six years ago have been brought in.

Fish farm

MSPs have launched a follow-up inquiry to ask if recommendations made six years ago have been brought in by the salmon farming industry.

In November 2018 a Scottish Parliament committee said urgent action was needed to improve the regulation of the industry and address fish health and environmental challenges.

It said the current standards of regulation of the sector was ‘not acceptable’ and set out 65 recommendations about how challenges, such as the control of sea lice, rising fish mortalities and the need to reduce the sector’s impact on the environment, should be addressed.

This week Holyrood’s Rural Affairs & Islands (RAI) Committee has announced a follow-up, which will involve nine evidence sessions.

Convener Finlay Carson MSP said: “The recommendations of 2018 aimed to put in place measures that would maintain the reputation of Scottish salmon as an internationally recognised premium product, and so preserving the significant economic and social value this industry brings to Scotland.

“Picking up the baton from our predecessors, we will find out what progress has been made in developing the industry since 2018 and how the various fish health, environmental and climate change challenges it faces are being addressed.”

MSPs will revisit the recommendations hearing from aquaculture stakeholders, salmon farming representatives, non-governmental organisations and regulators.

In September, the committee will meet with community groups to learn more about the impact salmon farming is having on local communities.

Members will also visit the Scottish Association for Marine Science and salmon farms to increase their understanding of how the sector is developing.

Scottish farmed salmon was the UK’s top food export by value in 2023. Figures from the HMRC show that export sales for the calendar year totalled £581m.

In 2022, 169,194 tonnes of Atlantic salmon were produced in Scotland – a decrease of 36,199 tonnes on the 2021 total of 205,393 tonnes, which was the highest level of production ever recorded in Scotland.

In 2023, data published by the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) recorded 17.4 million fish mortalities on Scottish salmon farms which exceeded the 17.2 million of 2022’s record-breaking year.