THE size and ambition of Norway’s aquaculture industry was on magnificent display at Aqua Nor in Trondheim last month, and the many visitors from Scotland will no doubt have found much inspiration there.
But while our presence was of course much smaller, this country punched well above its weight, with major Scottish suppliers such as Gael Force and Ace Aquatec reporting steady interest and business from the Norwegians, as well as from further afield. And, in case you missed the big story of the month, it was a British company, Benchmark, that scooped the coveted Aqua Nor Innovation Award, repeating Ace Aquatec’s coup of two years ago, and boosting our reputation for innovation in an exceptionally competitive field.
It was disappointing, therefore, to hear from Scottish salmon farmers at the show that they could not use Benchmark’s prize winning CleanTreat sea lice system on their own sites. Scotland’s Rural Economy minister, Fergus Ewing, who was in Trondheim, supports trials of CleanTreat in Scotland. And the head of Marine Scotland, also at the exhibition, apparently reassured the Benchmark team that they had his backing too.
What, then, is the problem? If home-grown technical brilliance, cheered on by producers and the powers that be, can address the greatest farming challenges - and sustainably - surely faceless bureaucrats would not block such progress. Or would they?