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Sal­mon in­ter­ac­tions group

Fish Farmer - - Contents -

THE new farmed and wild sal­mon in­ter­ac­tions group set up by the Sco sh gov­ern­ment comes as the in­dus­try ap­proaches a cross­roads. It will meet for the first time in Septem­ber, just as Holy­rood’s Ru­ral Econ­omy and Con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee is due to de­liver the find­ings of its in­quiry into the sec­tor, and there will be much fo­cus on how the two sides re­spond.

The in­ter­ac­tions group has been driven by the two min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for the in­dus­try, Fer­gus Ewing and Roseanna Cun­ning­ham, and they will be hop­ing to see a com­mon ap­proach be­tween aqua­cul­ture lead­ers and the wild fish sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to sea lice.

The man ap­pointed to chair this po­ten­tially frac­tious body, John Good­lad, said he is look­ing for­ward to it.

Any­body who reads the press, whether it’s the fish farm­ing press or the gen­eral press, will be very much aware it’s a live sub­ject, there’s a huge amount of con­tro­versy, a lot of heat gen­er­ated, per­haps not so much light, and con ict­ing claims from both sides.

So the pur­pose of the group is to get the dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers to­gether and see what com­mon ground there is, with re­gard to the cur­rent pol­icy on sea lice in aqua­cul­ture and wild fish­eries, and re­view ex­ist­ing projects and plan fu­ture projects, and then, cru­cially, a er sev­eral meet­ings, try to draw things to­gether and make some rec­om­men­da­tions.’

If any­one can find com­mon cause be­tween these two fac­tions it is Good­lad, who has be­ing work­ing be­hind the scenes for the past year and a half in an at­tempt to re­solve their dif­fer­ences.

Un­der the radar’ talks, prompted by Prince Charles’ visit to a Ma­rine Har­vest sal­mon farm in the au­tumn of 2016, have been con­ducted in Lon­don and at Dum­fries House in Scot­land to ad­dress specif­i­cally the adop­tion of the ASC (Aqua­cul­ture Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil) stan­dard in Scot­land.

As part of Charles’ In­ter­na­tional Sus­tain­abil­ity Unit (ISU), of which Good­lad was the fish­eries ad­vi­sor, these meet­ings have in­cluded Ma­rine Har­vest ex­ec­u­tives, mem­bers of the Sco sh Sal­mon Pro­duc­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the At­lantic Sal­mon Trust (whose pa­tron is Charles), Fish­eries Man­age­ment Scot­land, lead­ing re­tail­ers and gov­ern­ment o cials.

Good­lad said he would like to think these dis­cus­sions- de­scribed by sev­eral par­tic­i­pants as cor­dial and con­struc­tive- will have pro­vided the ground­work from which the new body can pro­ceed.

Although the ISU has been wound up, as Charles’s royal du­ties in­crease, its work will con­tinue as long as it needs to’, through the Fish­mon­gers Com­pany in Lon­don, said Good­lad.

It will be ef­fec­tively the same group, I’ll

con­tinue to chair it, and it will be the same sal­mon work­ing group but run by Fish­mon­gers Com­pany rather than the ISU.’

While re­lated to the new in­ter­ac­tions work­stream, the goal of these Lon­don talks, as with the ISU, is to en­cour­age more farms in Scot­land to em­brace the ASC , which im­poses very am­bi­tious sea lice tar­gets, and do more with cleaner fish and non-chem­i­cal treat­ments of sea lice. And its work will come to a nat­u­ral end once the ASC is up­dated, Good­lad be­lieves.

The up­take of the stan­dard in Scot­land has been lower than else­where be­cause of the prac­tice here of rear­ing young sal­mon in fresh­wa­ter lochs, pre­cluded from ASC cri­te­ria, and this has be­come part of an on­go­ing di­a­logue be­tween the in­dus­try and the ASC.

‘So ASC have taken on board that there are cer­tain things they need to do to make the ASC stan­dard more ap­pli­ca­ble to Scot­land and that’s be­ing looked at at the mo­ment,’ said Good­lad. The out­come will be known some time later this sum­mer, maybe Au­gust.’

That would be a good place for the new in­ter­ac­tions group to be­gin its work, which will be ‘con­nected’ and ‘com­ple­men­tary’ to the ISU dis­cus­sions. How­ever, this group will be very open and trans­par­ent and peo­ple will be watch­ing it very closely’, said Good­lad.

He was keen to keep the group small, with about eight or nine mem­bers, whose fi­nal com­po­si­tion will be an­nounced shortly.

I think the group will be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try, of the wild fish sec­tor, and then the var­i­ous reg­u­la­tory bod­ies that are in­volved, such as Sepa and SNH Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage .’

There are con­cerns that while or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the At­lantic Sal­mon Trust and Fish­eries Man­age­ment Scot­land are pre­pared to talk to the sal­mon farm­ers, and have been do­ing so through the ISU, the more vo­cal anti-sal­mon farm­ing lobby will never co­op­er­ate.

Good­lad said the group will be a coali­tion of the will­ing It would be com­pletely na ve to ex­pect that this group could get ev­ery­body around the ta­ble. There are peo­ple who don’t be­lieve there can be any meet­ing in the mid­dle, that’s prob­a­bly in both sec­tors.

Let’s try and get the peo­ple on both sides who are pre­pared to sit down and have a ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sion on the is­sues, and look at the sci­ence that’s been done and look at the sci­ence that might need to be done in the fu­ture, and make some very clear rec­om­men­da­tions to gov­ern­ment.

I think that can be done. I’m very de­ter­mined that that is our vi­sion and I be­lieve that is per­fectly pos­si­ble.’

He said it wouldn’t be par­tic­u­larly pro­duc­tive, any­way, to get ev­ery­one with a view on the sub­ject in the same room.

In any sit­u­a­tion where you have two very fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent points of view, you can only make progress by ge ng to­gether the peo­ple who rep­re­sent these two dif­fer­ent sec­tors, but who are pre­pared to sit down and dis­cuss ra­tio­nally, look at sci­ence and lis­ten.’

He is con­fi­dent of ge ng that co­op­er­a­tive group of peo­ple and, with a lit­tle bit of good­will from all sides’, ex­pects to make some head­way.

They will meet on as many oc­ca­sions and for as long as they be­lieve it is nec­es­sary, to get as far as it’s pos­si­ble to get to.

‘I would hope we would be able to show some progress by early 2019. That’s just a chair­man’s rather na ve am­bi­tion.’

The min­is­ters won’t sit in on ev­ery meet­ing but they will both be tak­ing a very close in­ter­est in the group, he said.

One of the first things the in­ter­ac­tions group do will be to have a look at the find­ings of the REC com­mit­tee, and the ear­lier ECCLR (En­vi­ron­ment, Cli­mate Change and Land Re­form com­mit­tee, and see what they say in re­la­tion to cur­rent gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

Our ob­jec­tive is not just to look at it but to come up with some clear rec­om­men­da­tions that have the weight of ev­ery­body in the group, all sec­tors.’

Good­lad dis­misses sug­ges­tions from crit­ics that this is a PR ex­er­cise and in­sists that progress can be made when peo­ple talk to each other.

He chaired the Sco sh pelagic sus­tain­abil­ity group, which brought to­gether all the pelagic catch­ers and pro­ces­sors in Scot­land in the a er­math of the black fish scan­dal, to try and re­store that in­dus­try’s rep­u­ta­tion.

They agreed to try and achieve ex­act­ing MSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for her­ring and mack­erel fish­eries, which peo­ple said was an im­pos­si­ble dream. But they suc­ceeded, pu ng North Sea her­ring through in 2008 and then west­ern mack­erel, west of Scot­land her­ring and blue whit­ing.

We achieved some­thing of re­ally fun­da­men­tal and last­ing im­por­tance for the Sco sh in­dus­try that was the in­dus­try that de­liv­ered that. It shows what can be done when you have peo­ple around the ta­ble who are de­ter­mined to move things for­ward.

You have to have a high set of am­bi­tions. So let’s see how we get on.’

I would hope we would be able to show some progress by 2019” early

Iron men in wooden boats: book re­view,

Left: Ma­rine Har­vest’s Ron­nie Hawkins ex­plains the cleaner fish op­er­a­tion to Prince Charles dur­ing his visit to Loch Leven in 2016. Above: John Good­lad.

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