Scottish Salmon – good for Scotland’s rural communities

The question “Is salmon farming doing more harm than good for Scotland?” has been asked by The Scottish Sun. Here’s how Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation responded:

“No. Salmon farming may be only 40 years old but it has transformed the Scottish food sector and the rural communities of the west Highlands and Islands with jobs, investment and business opportunities. Schools are open, houses are built, local shops are busy, because families are now able to stay and work in the communities they were brought up in. Around salmon farming areas you hear people say again and again that without salmon farming they wouldn’t have the new playground or the swimming club or volunteers for mountain rescue, the Community Council. Last year, salmon farming donated £735,000 to local sports and community groups. Salmon farming is more than just a business, it’s a social and economic lifeline for remote, rural parts of Scotland.

“Last week, figures showed that salmon remains Scotland’s and the UK’s biggest food export worth £600M. A record result. Overseas, people love Scottish salmon for its taste, quality and its Scottish origin. In the UK, salmon is the most popular fish in the supermarket trolley. Fresh, tasty, easy to cook and healthy, too, with plenty of Omega 3s for brains and hearts.

“No wonder our workers are proud to farm Scottish salmon. More than 10,000 people work in salmon farming and related jobs like transport and processing. With modern apprenticeships, training, and career opportunities second generations are joining the sector. From engineers to fish health managers, from marketing to vets, the range of jobs in salmon farming is impressive.

“Farming salmon today is a far cry from the early years. Yes, the personal checks of the fish are still done day in, day out. The fish need to be looked after, like any farm animals, with vaccinations and treatments to keep them clear of sea lice, and this is done under the vet’s supervision and plenty of regulation from SEPA and the Government. Salmon need high quality, cool water to thrive – so it’s in the farmers’ best interests to protect the environment. Conditions are changing with new threats like micro-jellyfish and algal blooms arriving from the warmer waters as temperatures here increase. It has made a difference to salmon farming and it hasn’t been easy, but the industry is investing millions of pounds every year in scientific research to bring new equipment, new techniques and new training to Scotland.

“Salmon farming is here to stay and investing to make sure it continues to do well for its fish, the environment and its workers and their communities.”