Scotland’s salmon farmers grow fish for dinner plates here and abroad. Salmon is bought by retailers, supermarkets and ultimately by the consumer. You and me. From Shetland in the north, through Orkney, across to the Western Isles and all the way along Scotland’s beautiful west coast people harvest the seas.
We all rightly take a close interest in where our food comes from and how it is produced. Food buyers pay minute attention to animal welfare and all aspects of production. There is no room for any dodgy practice and nor should there be. Consumers demand and get independent audits of our fish farms and many of these benchmark Scotland against international standards. There is again no room for any wrong practice.
We are rightly a heavily regulated industry here in Scotland. We are more regulated by Government than other salmon producing nations. So in this competitive international marketplace where we produce quality protein for worldwide customers, we face real competition. Scotland’s best selling point is the pristine marine environment around our coasts and our reputation for quality food and drink. No fish farmer wants to hurt this marine environment and therefore our fish. We want to enhance that reputation not harm it.
For the hundreds of people who work on Scotland’s fish farms it is very wrong to assert that fish health and welfare standards are not followed. It is an attack on our people's integrity. Who does that? Every industry in the world faces activism. Full time campaigners, often funded by secretive backers, are paid to make up stories, invent allegations and peddle lies on social media. Scotland’s fish farms are no different in facing this. Such people always turn down our offers to visit farms. They do not want to listen to facts and see evidence that might be unhelpful to their campaign.
Last November Scotland’s fish farmers published a far sighted Sustainability Charter. It recognises our role in reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. Our farms aim to meet Scottish Government and international targets for net zero in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The Charter was built by brilliant people in our companies and incorporated wider views and opinions from our many partners. It is our future, our commitment and our list of action points that we are determined to deliver on.
Farming anything has an impact. Cattle on land, crops in fields and fish in the sea. Through our Charter, our vets, our marine biologists and hundreds of dedicated people, Scotland’s fish farmers grow healthy, nutritious fish for you.
And you are most welcome, when Scotland comes out of lockdown, to come and see. We would love to show you how fish are looked after and how we invest in science and people to constantly learn and innovate. And how not just our producer companies but 3,000 other Scottish businesses in every corner of the county are part of Team Scottish Salmon.
Apply your critical facilities. But unlike our detractors, we trust the people of Scotland, the consumers of our country to leave their prejudices at the water’s edge.
This piece by Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) first appeared in The Herald.