Scot­tish Tech­ni­cal Stan­dard

Jamie Smith on progress, prob­lems and new lead­er­ship in the Con­tain­ment Work­ing Group

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THE Con­tain­ment Work­ing Group, es­tab­lished to create the Scot­tish Tech­ni­cal Stan­dard, is to have an­other change in lead­er­ship. Jamie Smith, who took over the reins last year fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Mowi’s Steve Bracken, has re­cently left the Scot­tish Salmon Pro­duc­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter ten years.

He has handed over his CWG re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to SSPO col­league Anne An­der­son, who will act as in­terim chair at this month’s meet­ing.

Smith had been in­volved in the group since the be­gin­ning, was there to see the Scot­tish Tech­ni­cal Stan­dard pub­lished in 2015, and on his de­par­ture, he spoke to Fish Farmer about its progress.

Last year he high­lighted three ar­eas of fo­cus: how to im­ple­ment the stan­dard, train­ing staff to com­ply with it, and up­dat­ing its cri­te­ria.

Smith said they have now de­vel­oped and agreed a way of up­dat­ing the stan­dard so there is a means of con­tin­u­ously up­grad­ing the stan­dard.

There has also been some progress and ‘cer­tainly com­mit­ment’ on the train­ing front, said Smith. He said last Novem­ber that on-farm train­ing car­ried out by the Scot­tish Salmon Com­pany’s head of pro­duc­tion,

“It is never go­ing to be a fin­ished job, we’re just try­ing to be as good be” as we can

Iain Mac­In­tyre, had proved to be par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful.

The train­ing in­volves go­ing out on to a site and set­ting up a cage with faults, and then the staff have to find those faults and re­port them.

‘The big­ger com­pa­nies, Mowi, the Scot­tish Salmon Com­pany and Scot­tish Sea Farms, have all com­mit­ted to un­der­take prac­ti­cal on farm train­ing,’ said Smith.

‘And there is a de­sire to have the NAFC [Ma­rine Cen­tre UHI] con­tain­ment mod­ule as es­sen­tially the in­dus­try stan­dard.

‘Those three com­pa­nies are the most able to un­der­take that train­ing in terms of the num­ber of sites they have, and Cooke is pretty keen on that as well.’

Where the CWG has not moved for­ward much is the chal­lenge of legally im­ple­ment­ing the stan­dard, he said.

‘The gov­ern­ment will lead on how that is go­ing to be im­ple­mented. Their de­sire is to have a le­gal po­si­tion there…a re­quire­ment to meet the stan­dard and if you don’t there are penal­ties. That needs the most work on it and hasn’t re­ally pro­gressed.’ He said there is dis­agree­ment over how to take this for­ward. ‘The gov­ern­ment would like it to be wholly un­der­taken by the in­dus­try, funded by the in­dus­try. Whereas the in­dus­try is less keen on that for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, in terms of if you look at the ad­di­tional cost bur­den of au­dit­ing.

‘This needs to be a doc­u­ment that can take new tech­nol­ogy and make sure in­no­va­tion is not sti­fled by the stan­dard,’ said Smith.

The stan­dard is sup­posed to come into op­er­a­tion in 2020, and Smith said there is ‘cer­tainly a de­sire’ for the gov­ern­ment, and the Ru­ral Econ­omy min­is­ter Fer­gus Ewing, to make sure this is un­der­taken by then.

Does he feel that over the past five to six years the in­dus­try has re­ally moved on in ad­dress­ing its con­tain­ment is­sues?

‘There will al­ways be chal­lenges with con­tain­ment,’ he ad­mit­ted. ‘There is that recog­ni­tion by the farm­ing side that there are ar­eas where we can al­ways look at, es­pe­cially if we’re go­ing to more ex­posed sites.

‘We have to have a stan­dard that evolves over time to be able to cope with in­no­va­tion, with new sites and new ar­eas.

‘I think there is a com­mit­ment to sup­port this par­tic­u­lar stan­dard but it needs con­tin­ual work on it. It is never go­ing to be a fin­ished job, we’re just try­ing to be as good as we can be.’

While there will be a change at the top of the Con­tain­ment Work­ing Group, and the gov­ern­ment’s main driver, Jeff Gib­bons, has now left the aqua­cul­ture pol­icy team, Smith said there re­mains a huge amount of ex­pe­ri­ence within the group, and it just needs to be co­or­di­nated.

As for his own fu­ture in the in­dus­try, he is plan­ning to set up a con­sul­tancy, and is es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in the area of waste pro­duced by dead fish.

‘We could work to­gether bet­ter to dis­pose of this,’ he said, adding that he has al­ready been work­ing on so­lu­tions with Zero Waste Scot­land.

Above: Jamie Smith

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