NEW SUSTAINABILITY CHARTER PROVIDES PATH FOR FUTURE GROWTH
New sustainability charter provides path for future growth for Scottish salmon. Tavish Scott, the new chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation says its new sustainability charter provides a vital pathway for the future prosperity of the sector, which will boost fragile local coastal economies, protect the environment and benefit communities.
He told Fish Focus that the charter – A Better Future For Us All – will put the salmon farming sector in even greater ‘lockstep with the communities they serve’ and sets in stone the sustainability standards and commitments the industry aspires to achieve.
“This is a serious commitment on our part, and we intend to produce an annual report on the charter to provide progress updates,” he says.
There are commitments to be net zero in greenhouse gas emissions before 2045, to source all feed from sustainable sources and to become 100 per cent renewable energy users.
“Scotland produces the best salmon in the world to the highest standards, but we want to remain the best in the world so we will go further and aim higher in order to stay at the top.”
The charter is all-encompassing, and as well as it environmental vision, its targets every facet of fish farm operations, from fish health and welfare to the people who work in the sector, from the product itself to the career development of employees.
Community benefit is a key part of the charter, and it aims to establish, in consultation with the Scottish Government, a structured community funding model, ensuring that local areas benefit from the salmon sector.
Meanwhile, there is also a need for the current regulatory framework to be made more efficient and less bureaucratic to enable Scottish salmon farmers to remain competitive in the international market and attract new investment.
“Scottish salmon farming has been growing at about the rate of 2.9 per cent per year over the last decade,” says Scott. “That could probably be described as solid but, when compared to our competitors, it is decidedly modest.”
Ten years ago, Scotland had a 10% share of the global market, but now the share is 7% and will drop further unless action is taken.
“There is a massive opportunity here,” says Scott. “The global market for salmon is growing: Scottish salmon is the premium product and recognised as such. Increasing exports of such a niche product could help drive the economic recovery everyone wants to see. But that is unlikely to happen when other countries make it easier for companies to invest and farm.
“It costs more to produce salmon in Scotland than it does elsewhere, and global companies will pick and choose where to invest. The principal way to address this is by making the regulatory system more efficient, and less cumbersome, bureaucratic and complicated.”
He adds: “That doesn’t mean less regulation, but better and more efficient regulation, which protects the environment and benefits sustainable economic growth and local communities.”
Asked whether the potential future explosion of land-based recirculation salmon farms around the world could impact upon Scottish salmon exports in the future, Mr Scott said: “Scotland produces a premium salmon that is much sought after in the UK and abroad and I believe there is considerable potential to build upon that consumer demand.”