In any normal year, this sort of annual roundup would be fairly routine: there would be successes and challenges to discuss, innovations and new markets to champion and performance to assess.
Scottish salmon farming stands at a momentous point.
What began a little over 50 years ago as a simple crofting sideline has grown into a billion-pound a-year national success story, with a proven track record of investment, innovation and tremendous ingenuity.
Ahead of us stands the opportunity to be a key contributor to Scotland’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 – and aid the country’s post-Covid recovery and renewal.
The tail to this crisis is going to be long and painful. There will be second waves and third waves, localised hotspots and regional lockdowns in various parts of the world not to mention the millions of job losses and mountainous government debts.
And yet, and yet – a sense is starting to build within the Scottish salmon sector that something better, stronger and more resilient could emerge from the wreckage.
THERE’S a documentary coming out later this year. Well, it claims to be a documentary but it will really be more of a diatribe. It’s called 'Eating Our Way to Extinction' and you can probably guess what its about. It an anti-meat, anti-fish, anti-corporate, anti-pretty much anything to do with ordinary food production film, as far as we can tell.
Flying into Kirkwall’s tiny airport you would be hard pressed to imagine anywhere else in the UK where a population of only 26,000, spread across 16 or so inhabited islands, could deliver such an incredible breadth of fine quality food and drink.
The islands’ produce ranges from renowned whiskies, gins, cheeses and meats to, chocolate and seafood, including farmed salmon that is among the best in the world.
IT is easy for anyone to take a hasty – and understandable – dislike to the United Nations, particularly those who have tried to wander around the UN’s campus in New York.
If anything is going on there, roads are shut off, officious members of the NYPD stand, pompous and shouting while convoys of identical black SUVs with smoked glass windows hurtle past pedestrians squeezed into street corners.
Walk into the control room of the feed barge on a Scottish salmon farm today and what will greet you is more space race than farming.
There will be an array of screens, some showing ever-changing figures and charts but many with live video footage from inside the pens.
There will be electronic microscopes to monitor plankton levels, digital thermometers for the water temperature and gauges showing the feed levels in the stores.
THE first proper spring salmon I ever saw was pulled from the icy waters of the Tay on a bitter March day 20 years ago.
There was snow in the air, the water was barely above freezing – it actually felt lower than that even through a pair of neoprene waders – and the sky was glowering threateningly above the long salmon rods flicking lines out across the black river.