SALM arming s recent record o commercial success, culminating in its position as Scotland s and the s number one ood export, is something to be proud o as an industry. exports o whole, resh salmon rose 17 per cent in value in 2016 rom the previous year. Significant increases were seen in Far Eastern and E markets, and the Middle East also recorded a significant increase, growing by nearly 32 per cent. We are acutely aware, however, that we still have detractors and continue to come in or strong criticism, particularly rom a minority in the wild salmon sector.
n some o the criticism we need to set the record straight as the actual detail can get lost in the noise o media hysteria. Most notably, there has been seemingly limited effort in obtaining the ull acts on the problem o sea lice.
First o all, sea lice occur naturally in marine waters and are ound on both wild and armed salmon. ver the last year, the numbers o sea lice were, in some locations, higher than we would have wished to see.
In some cases, it was a challenge to reduce the levels, but Sco sh salmon armers invested heavily in cleaner fish and physical equipment that can remove them, as well as using a range o veterinary medicines to address the issue. The situation is now improving.
The dramatic media reports we have seen ail to mention that on every salmon arm there is an action plan to monitor and manage sea lice levels continually throughout the production cycle.
I , as has happened on a number o arms, the level goes above three adult emale lice, the arm notifies Marine Scotland Science and explains their action plan to reduce the numbers. The arm remains in contact with the government agency until the issue is resolved.
In that way, the arm and the regulator monitor progress closely and fish health and wel are are always looked a er. This is part o a long-standing, transparent and extensive exchange o in ormation with the regulators about our fish health standards.
As any armer knows, looking a er health and wel are requires dedicated husbandry, and nowadays the techniques involved have to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions, such as warmer water temperatures and exotic algal blooms.
In addition, we are in the process o establishing a 10-year fish health strategy in collaboration with Marine Scotland Science to develop new arming methods to uture proo this important sector rom any biological or environmental challenges which come its way.
With the level o investment, the scientific research and dedication o hard working armers, sea lice may remain a challenge, but one we can overcome.
Business confidence in the industry remained high last year, as a new SSP new report, published on ovember 6, showed. For the second year, capital investment is si ng at 63 million and nearly 3,500 Sco sh companies are benefiting rom doing business with salmon armers. Some 2,400 o these companies are in the Highlands and islands.
Expenditure on suppliers and services to maintain production was more than 595 million, with just over 390 million o that spent in Scotland, and the salmon arming sector increased employment by 13 per cent last year.
The economic impact is particularly evident in the Highlands and islands, where 164 million was spent directly with local businesses. In total, wages increased by five per cent to almost 75 million.
I m especially pleased to see more recruitment and that 91 per cent o jobs are ull-time. This is a major boost or the Sco sh economy, but or the Highlands and islands it is a vital economic and social support.
In addition to the business o salmon arming and the demonstrable benefits that brings, the industry is committed to supporting local communities where staff and their amilies live and work.
Salmon arming companies allow staff time off to volunteer or vital local services such as mountain rescue and the fire service. By sharing acilities, time, expertise and providing financial assistance, salmon arming supported communities to the value o 735,000.
The industry s long-term commitment to the Highlands and islands and its work orce is also seen in the continued skills and training programmes, with 111 young people on Modern Apprenticeships or ational Progression Awards schemes.
Media reports fail to mention that on every arm there is an action plan to monitor and manage sea levels” lice
Above: Pest management is a eature o every Sco sh fish arm