In­dus­try plat­form

Meet­ing tar­gets

Fish Farmer - - Contents - BY NIKOS STEIROPOU­LOS

THE re­cent pub­li­ca­tion of the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment’s Fish Farm bag. Head­count is grow­ing, with an ad­di­tional 123 staff be­ing em­ployed in pro­duc­tion, while the num­ber of com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in sal­mon farm­ing is also up. Mean­while, the num­ber of sites is hold­ing steady at 87.

How­ever, we have also wit­nessed a de­cline in pro­duc­tiv­ity, with the 2015 down to 162,817 tonnes in 2016. This in­cludes a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of smolts pro­duced and, un­for­tu­nately, a de­crease in smolt sur­vival, which is bad news.

Smolt qual­ity is of ut­most im­por­tance - a good smolt is half the bat­tle won. Sadly, in ad­di­tion to this re­duc­tion in smolt sur­vival, the sur­vey also showed re­duc­tions in the mean weight of sal­mon be­ing pro­duced.

in­dus­try will meet its am­bi­tious tar­get of pro­duc­ing 350,000 tonnes mod­est growth to 177,202 tonnes, leav­ing us some way short of the tar­get.

How­ever, what I’ve learned from my years in aqua­cul­ture is never to un­der­es­ti­mate the in­ge­nu­ity and skill of those work­ing in the sec­tor. Sal­mon aqua­cul­ture has risen to a num­ber of chal­lenges – most no­tably sea lice – and emerged stronger.

bar­ri­ers to growth and has ac­tioned ini­tia­tives to­wards strength­en­ing in­dus­try lead­er­ship and am­bi­tion, ac­cel­er­a­tion of in­no­va­tion, de­vel­op­ment of skills and pro­por­tion­ate reg­u­la­tion.

Three of th­ese ar­eas are, in my view, par­tic­u­larly vi­tal to the for­tunes of the sec­tor.

much to re­duce the re­cent im­pact of sea lice is­sues, which led to high mor­tal­ity rates and con­tro­versy over farm­ing prac­tices.

In­deed, we’ve seen an in­crease in pro­duc which is wel­come and forms part of the sea lice erad­i­ca­tion ef­fort along­side the so­lu­tions of me­chan­i­cal re­moval.

sup­ported by the pru­dent use of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal port­fo­lio as and when re­quired.

Sev­eral new pre­ven­tive strate­gies based on vac­ci­na­tion have re­cently been in­tro­duced to con­front bac­te­rial and vi­ral chal­lenges, yet the health. And the prob­lem goes be­yond the rel­a­tively well-known is­sues, in­clud­ing amoe­bic gill dis­ease (AGD), that the in­dus­try has grad­u­ally learned to deal with.

re­search to fully iden­tify im­pact­ing fac­tors, both of bi­otic and abi­otic na­ture.

va­tion to­wards gill health chal­lenge - and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of suc­cess­ful strate­gies to mit­i­gate sea lice – Europharma’s UK team is par­tic­i­pat­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search aimed at im­prov­ing rapid di­ag­nos­tic meth­ods, and also in­ves­ti­gat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that im­pact on th­ese gill syn­dromes.

Reg­u­la­tion

Scot­land Food and Drink’s strat­egy for aqua­cul­ture as­pires to see the in­dus­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Scot­tish econ­omy es­ca­lat­ing from £1.8 bil­lion in 2016, to £3.6 bil­lion by 2030, with the gen­er­a­tion of more than of 9,000

mar­kets but I fear we might miss such op­por­tu­ni­ties if the growth in the Scot­tish in­dus­try is re­stricted by dis­pro­por­tion­ate reg­u­la­tion.

as Craig An­der­son at the Scot­tish Sal­mon

Com­pany call for rad­i­cal change in the way the in­dus­try is reg­u­lated. One per­ti­nent ex­am­ple cited is the length of time taken to get plan­ning per­mis­sion and the ap­pro­pri­ate li­cences for new farms. Such de­lays cost com­pa­nies valu­able time and money, while di­rectly hold­ing back pro­duc­tion.

The need for pro­por­tion­ate reg­u­la­tion and a more en­abling ap­proach from reg­u­la­tors was also vis­ited in de­tail in Scot­land’s new In­dus­try Lead­er­ship Group (ILG) for aqua­cul­ture in its in­au­gu­ral meet­ing ear­lier this year.

The at­ten­dance of Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary po­ten­tial for in­dus­try and dif­fer­ent parts of the pub­lic sec­tor to col­lab­o­rate ef­fec­tively to sup­port sus­tain­able growth in a key in­dus­try for Scot­land.

In­dis­putably, the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment has been very sup­port­ive of the sal­mon farm­ing in­dus­try.Yet it’s also clear that more can be done to sup­port a sec­tor that is a mar­que

More can be done to sup­port a sec­tor that is one of our most im­por­tant

brand for Scot­tish food and drink, as well as be­ing one of our most im­por­tant em­ploy­ers in ru­ral and is­land com­mu­ni­ties.

Fi­nally, we need to raise our game in terms of our pub­lic re­la­tions ac­tiv­ity and to en­sure the sec­tor speaks with one voice, chal­leng­ing the poor science which is of­ten thrown at the in­dus­try by its de­trac­tors.

That means we need to get con­sid­er­ably bet­ter at talk­ing up our own

The Scot­tish aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try (to para­phrase Michael Joseph­son) should take pride in how far we have come and have faith and de­ter­mi­na­tion in how far we can go.

It’s my con­tention that with ac­tion in all th­ese ar­eas, there’s no rea­son why our in­dus­try can’t con­tinue to grow and put more of our prod­uct on din­ner ta­bles across the globe.

Nikos Steiropou­los is CEO of Europharma Scot­land.

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