The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said the SNP pledge to adopt regulatory reform, if the SNP is returned to power, would help the farmed salmon sector grow sustainability over the long term.
The SNP manifesto, published today (April 15) includes a commitment to a “new approach” to the way fish farming planning consents are handled.
At the moment, four different regulatory bodies oversee the consenting process with each one acting as a statutory consultee on the process handled by the others.
If re-elected, the SNP will look to establish a “single determining authority” modelled on the system in Norway.
Tavish Scott, the Chief Executive of the SSPO said: “We have been clear: what we want to see is better regulation, not less regulation and this commitment in the SNP manifesto shows that the SNP wants to see this too.”
Mr Scott said he hoped this would end the delays and bureaucratic confusion which plagues the system in Scotland – without restricting official scrutiny or public consultation on fish farm applications.
The SNP manifesto also commits the party to explore the development of “closed containment fish production”.
Mr Scott said Scotland’s salmon farmers had already made great strides in developing state-of-the-art closed containment systems for early-stage salmon development and these would continue.
He said: “Our members have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in land-based closed containment systems to grow salmon to the stage when they can be put to sea. This is the most important phase of the salmon’s development, where most growth happens and Scottish salmon achieves its distinctive flavour.
“These developments will continue and our members will continue to invest in this technology so that our sector remains at the leading edge of aquaculture worldwide.”
And he added: “The SNP administration has long recognised the benefits that salmon farming brings to Scotland, not just in promoting the country abroad but in the huge economic support it provides to many remote, rural communities.
“The Scottish salmon sector not only provides a healthy, nutritious, locally produced protein but it supports more than 10,000 jobs, many of them vital to keeping remote communities going.
“The sector has the potential to help lead Scotland out of the Covid pandemic and regulatory reform is key to realising that potential.”