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