Highland Council leader welcomes launch of salmon farming community charter

The leader of The Highland Council has welcomed the launch of a Community Engagement Charter for the Scottish salmon farming industry. It formalises how companies invest and engage with the local communities where salmon farms are located.

Cllr. Margaret Davidson (Ind, Aird and Loch Ness) learned more about the Community Engagement Charter launched by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) during a visit to the River House Restaurant in Inverness which uses high-quality farmed salmon produced in the Highlands by Wester Ross Salmon.

Cllr. Davidson met with Alfie Little along with Anne MacColl (Chair, SSPO) and Gilpin Bradley (Owner, Wester Ross Salmon) and learned about the industry’s support of and commitment to local communities and the regional economy.

Anne McColl said: “As an industry we have always been engaged with local communities in many ways. The time is right to make a public commitment to maintaining this support and enhancing it. Hopefully as we grow the value of the industry in the Highlands area, communities can feel a part of that.

“It’s a joint effort between industry and communities to grow the local economy. We want to share some of the rewards with them, and I think it is very important that we are enthusiastic about collaboration. That’s what this charter is all about – it’s about formalising what we do.”

Cllr. Margaret Davidson, Leader of Highland Council, said: “I was delighted to hear at first-hand how the salmon industry is working with local communities across the Highlands to grow the local economy. This is a really good example of bringing industry and local communities together. Developing a strong community engagement ethos is of huge benefit to both parties and so I very much welcome the launch of the Community Engagement Charter by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.”

Wester Ross Fisheries is the oldest and the only independent salmon farmer in the United Kingdom. The farm is now owned by three of our original employees — Gilpin Bradley, Colin Milne and David Robinson — who joined forces to purchase it when the previous owners retired.

Many farm shops in the Highlands and Moray hold fresh and smoked Wester Ross Salmon for their customers which is in a high demand. Wester Ross Fisheries is the largest private employer in the village of Ullapool.

Gilpin Bradley, owner of Wester Ross Salmon, said: “It is crucial to communicate properly with the public about salmon farming and the benefits it brings – not only for the consumer but also for the local farming communities, the surrounding environment and supporting the sustainable way of maintaining the stocks of our most precious fish.”

“Our livelihood depends on maintaining the natural environment to the highest possible standard and to protect the health of our fish. That is our top priority and we work every day and try any innovation or new practice we can to further improve our already excellent record in this regard.”

The salmon farming sector employs a total of 727 people in the Highlands and last year spend £13.8m in capital investment in the area, in addition to £80m in spending with local industries. This includes other companies operating in the area; Loch Duart; Scottish Sea Farms; Marine Harvest; Scottish Salmon Company and Hendrix Genetics (Landcatch).