ILG

Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Sites

Fish Farmer - - Contents -

THE land­scape of Scot­land’s aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try could start to look very dif­fer­ent rom as early as next year un­der a new sys­tem to es­tab­lish in­no­va­tion sites. A key rec­om­men­da­tion in the ision 2030 re­port, pub­lished a year ago by the in­dus­try, Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Sites will pro­mote growth by con erring spe­cial sta­tus on both new and ex­ist­ing lo­ca­tions that meet spe­cific cri­te­ria.

ision 2030 rec­om­mended that in­no­va­tion sites would be or con­trolled tri­als and de­vel­op­ment o equip­ment, tech­nolo­gies or dis­ease con­trol mea­sures and reg­u­la­tion , and the Aqua­cul­ture In­dus­try Lead­er­ship roup (AIL ), set up to im­ple­ment the vi­sion, has now taken that idea or­ward.

A sub-group o the AIL , led by the Sco sh Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Cen­tre and in­volv­ing all Scot­land s fin­fish pro­duc­ers, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives rom academia and the sup­ply chain, has dra ed pro­pos­als that it will bring to a meet­ing with Ma­rine Scot­land on ovem­ber 13.

The plan has al­ready been dis­cussed with Ru­ral Econ­omy Min­is­ter Fer­gus Ewing at the last meet­ing o the AIL in cto­ber and he is said to be driv­ing the ini­tia­tive.

I ap­proved, Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Sites will see changes in li­cens­ing ar­range­ments to acil­i­tate green de­vel­op­ment li­cences, new high en­ergy and ex­posed sites, higher biomass sites, and a more in­no­va­tive reg­u­la­tory rame­work.

Although the AIL looked at or­way s de­vel­op­ment li­cences dur­ing its dis­cus­sions, this is go­ing to be very much a Sco sh sys­tem , said Ste­wart ra­ham, who is co-chair (along with Jim al­lagher o Sco sh Sea Farms) o the AIL .

We ex­pect there might be a class o in­no­va­tion site which is large and new, but we d also ex­pect that small sites could be in­no­va­tion sites, and also that we might have ex­ist­ing sites mov­ing into in­no­va­tion site sta­tus.

We ve had two ini­tial in­dus­try meet­ings to start to or­mu­late the ideas as to what an in­no­va­tion site might con­sist o . It might be tri­alling new equip­ment, or it might have a part­ner­ship with academia, or be tri­alling new medicines, bi­o­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, or reg­u­la­tory tri­alling.

For sites to quali y or in­no­va­tion sta­tus, sev­eral cri­te­ria have been iden­ti­fied, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal per or­mance, eco­nomic and com­mu­nity ben­e­fit, tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion, reg­u­la­tory in­no­va­tion, and sup­port or sup­ply chains.

The AIL has pro­posed that there should be a sim­ple ap­pli­ca­tion process to set up the sites, along with lo­cal com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

It s mov­ing re­ally quickly and the min­is­ter has been very sup­port­ive o this par­tic­u­lar rec­om­men­da­tion and sug­gested that this must hap­pen in a mat­ter o weeks and months not months and years.

We may well see a de­fined scheme or the in­no­va­tion sites in 1 next year. That s po­ten­tially doable.

Those in­dus­try par­tic­i­pants who have been present at the two in­no­va­tion meet­ings have reached a con­sen­sus and when the ur­ther meet­ing is held we ex­pect to go in with a clear view rom the whole in­dus­try.

The cto­ber meet­ing o the AIL saw progress on sev­eral other ronts, said ra­ham, who is also man­ag­ing director o ael Force roup.

Among th­ese is the rec­om­men­da­tion to spell out clearly and con­sis­tently the so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits o any de­vel­op­ment in a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.

Some op­er­a­tors al­ready do this quite well and some don t do it at all, said ra­ham, adding that a tem­plate is be­ing pre­pared by Imani, the first dra o which should be com­pleted by the end o the year.

We have to put huge and great amounts o ef­fort into do­ing EIAs (en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ments) and things have grav­i­tated al­most wholly to the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect o sus­tain­abil­ity.

How­ever, what we haven t spelt out very clearly in plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions is what the so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fit o a par­tic­u­lar de­vel­op­ment is which, by statute, the plan­ning o cials are obliged to con­sider.

This rec­om­men­da­tion gives a mech­a­nism and a tem­plate to give that bal­anced view that hasn t con­sis­tently been there to date some­thing he said all the pro­duc­ers could then use in their plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions.

n the wider is­sue o speed­ing up the plan­ning process, ra­ham said there had been work go­ing on or years to de­velop a con­sent­ing re­view.

There have been eight quick wins iden­ti­fied within that and quick is very much in in­verted com­mas here We ve de­liv­ered five out o the eight and Ma­rine Scot­land is now re­port­ing at each AIL meet­ing on the progress on that.

I be­lieve we can ex­pect in the very near uture that all o the quick wins will be de­liv­ered.

The longer term goal o cre­at­ing a com­pletely new plan­ning regime will take more time.

We have fit­ted plan­ning or aqua­cul­ture de­vel­op­ments into ter­res­trial plan­ning rame­works and it has led to a sys­tem which is very clunky, said ra­ham.

That s a big piece o work and will need a lot o care ul con­sid­er­a­tion rom the in­dus­try. I guess to some ex­tent we have be­come used to the devil we know rather than tak­ing a leap o aith into some-

thing com­pletely new. But there is clearly a case to con­sider whether we should have a sin­gle plan­ning process which is very dif­fer­ent to the ter­res­trial process some sort o ma­rine li­cens­ing ar­range­ment. There are pros and cons and we ve not re­ally got into that yet.

He said he un­der­stood the rus­tra­tions ex­pressed re­cently by Craig An­der­son, man­ag­ing director o the Sco sh Sal­mon Com­pany, over the cur­rent reg­u­la­tory ap­pa­ra­tus.

We can make progress at the In­dus­try Lead­er­ship roup but that doesn t nec­es­sar­ily change be­hav­iour on the ground, rom o cials and reg­u­la­tors.

o mat­ter what we say in terms o pol­icy change you al­ways have lo­cal democ­racy with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and i you re not able to sway lo­cal mem­bers on any par­tic­u­lar is­sue then that s just the way it is.

Any ap­pli­ca­tion must en­gage with lo­cal mem­bers and en­sure they re as on side as they can be. Craig is right to be rus­trated be­cause we have senior peo­ple, the heads o Sepa, min­is­te­rial heads, we ve got ision 2030, all o this, and it is sim­ply rus­trat­ing that we don t see em­ploy­ees on the ground chang­ing be­hav­iour.

I you ve got a clear pol­icy and a clear steer rom the senior team and rom gov­ern­ment then, even­tu­ally, i be­hav­iours on the ground don t change, peo­ple need to change.

Chang­ing mind­sets, ra­ham ac­knowl­edges, is out­side the AIL s con­trol but while there wasn t a rec­om­men­da­tion in ision 2030 re­lat­ing to im­age and pre­sen­ta­tion, this is some­thing the in­dus­try has de­cided to ad­dress with some ur­gency.

Bad press con­tin­ues to plague the sal­mon sec­tor, de­spite its con­tri­bu­tion to the Sco sh econ­omy and its role in bring­ing em­ploy­ment to ru­ral ar­eas.

I m hugely rus­trated, and I know the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary is too, that we ap­pear in many ways to have been si ng back and be­ing re­ac­tionary and tak­ing things on the chin when we have a won­der ul pos­i­tive story to tell and we don t tell it. It isn t a rec­om­men­da­tion but I think it s ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to do some­thing.

To launch a long term, pos­i­tive pro­mo­tional cam­paign, ra­ham will sit down with the Sco sh Sal­mon Pro­duc­ers rgan­i­sa­tion to agree ex­actly what that mes­sage is that we want to put across, and how we und it .

He ad­mit­ted it had taken quite some con­sid­er­able time to get to a place where the whole pro­ducer in­dus­try and pro­ducer or­gan­i­sa­tion reached a con­sen­sus on this, but now there s a recog­nised need across the pro­duc­ers that we must tell the pos­i­tive story that we have to tell .

To help pro­mote the in­dus­try, the AIL is se ng up a com­mu­ni­ca­tions group, which will dis­sem­i­nate in or­ma­tion more widely. It will pub­lish min­utes rom AIL meet­ings on a new web­site, due to be up and run­ning early in the ew Year, and this will also chart the progress be­ing made on each o the ision 2030 rec­om­men­da­tions.

We don t have a per ect way o com­mu­ni­cat­ing with our stake­hold­ers and recog­nise that some­thing needs to be done there, said ra­ham.

Also ticked off the list o ision 2030 rec­om­men­da­tions is dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity we ve just about got a com­mit­ment that we ll have high speed broad­band in place on ev­ery lo­ca­tion, al­beit by 2021 , said ra­ham.

And trans­port im­prove­ments are un­der­way too, with the in­dus­try s in ras­truc­ture con­straints be­ing ed into the next strate­gic re­view o trans­port in Scot­land.

He pointed out that there are no ull-time staff on the AIL and no bud­get. The group in­cludes pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions and all the key pri­vate sec­tor pro­duc­ers, as well as Fer­gus Ewing, who ra­ham said is a tremen­dous as­set to Sco sh aqua­cul­ture s am­bi­tions .

We ve been de­lighted by the work rate and the huge sup­port rom the min­is­ter and it would be an ab­so­lute blow or our growth plans and that o the ru­ral econ­omy were he not in this po­si­tion.

The ision 2030 re­port ar­tic­u­lated the in­dus­try s in­ten­tion to dou­ble aqua­cul­ture s value rom 1.8 bil­lion to 3.6 bil­lion, with fin­fish pro­duc­tion grow­ing to 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes by 2030 and mus­sel out­put to 21,000 tonnes. The num­ber o jobs across the sec­tor could in­crease to 18,000 i the am­bi­tion is re­alised.

The next ull meet­ing o the AIL will be in In­ver­ness on De­cem­ber 8.

The min­is­ter sug­gested that this must hap­pen in a mat­ter o weeks and months not months and years”

Above: Ste­wart ra­ham Op­po­site page: Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Sites may soon get ap­proval in Scot­land

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