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Parliamentary committee report welcomed by SSPO states Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.The report has been published by the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. Ms. Hesketh-Laird noted that the Committee has recognised the opportunities for well-regulated, sustainable growth in order that the industry can continue to offer economic and social value to Scotland.

She said: “We welcome the Committee’s report and will study its recommendations closely.  We agree with the Committee that there is no evidence that salmon farming should not continue to grow sustainably. The Scottish salmon farming sector is at a critical phase of its development and the Committee’s recommendation that regulation be improved to keep pace with potential growth is encouraging. The sector is keen to work with Scottish Parliamentary Committees, the Scottish Government, the regulators and other organisations who have interests, or indeed concerns, about salmon farming.

“The health of our fish and the environment we depend on are vital for salmon farming and all SSPO members invest significantly in these areas. Our members produce the world’s most sought-after farmed salmon and are fully aware that, with that, comes the responsibility to ensure world-class fish welfare and environmental standards.  To that end, the industry is already voluntarily reporting lice levels and  is world-leading in publishing survival data on a farm-by-farm basis. We are leading participants in the Scottish Government’s 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework which promotes collaboration between industry, regulators and scientists to underpin long-term improvements in fish health and welfare.

“We intend to continue that work and investment and we welcome involvement in any future regulatory discussion to help us do that and ensure that future changes in farming regulations are robust, inspire confidence in all stakeholders and are practical and workable.

“On the siting of farms, we welcome the Committee’s recommendation and the recent move by SEPA to support the development of larger farms. The sector has long called for the flexibility to allow farming in more appropriate locations, while existing farms performing well should be supported to continue in doing so.

“The Scottish salmon farming industry employs over two thousand people on farms and supports thousands more in its supply chain, often in the most rural and economically vulnerable communities in Scotland. The industry is committed to ensuring that any changes to its operations and regulations will protect the many livelihoods in rural Scotland.”