Aquaculture and wild fisheries must aim for sustainable co-existence

Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP and the Scottish Conservative Environment Spokesman, argued that Scotland’s aquaculture and wild fisheries sectors must cooperate and seek a sustainable co-existence in the interests of Scotland’s economy and environment.

Mr McGrigor was speaking in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon during a Stage 1 debate on the Scottish Government’s Aquaculture & Fisheries Bill.

Speaking in the debate Jamie said: “I have spoken in numerous debates on aquaculture during my time as an MSP and my theme has consistently been that we need to see a sustainable co-existence between our aquaculture sector and our wild fisheries sector.

“This remains my position and is very strongly the view of the Rural Affairs Committee whose report rightly suggests that while this current legislation is important ‘perhaps of equal significance for Scotland in the long-term, is improving the current relationship between the wild and farmed fish sectors.’

“As a Highlands & Islands MSP I am hugely aware that both farmed fish and wild fishery businesses are crucial elements of our economy, providing significant numbers of valuable jobs. Aquaculture is a very big part of Scotland’s growing food exports and wild salmon and sea trout fishing attract substantial tourism income into our communities with spin offs for hotels and shops.”

He continued: “Both fishery sectors need to be profitable to help the Scottish economy and, as I have said before, a prosperous salmon farming industry is much better equipped to care for environmental issues than an industry which is hanging on by its fingertips.

“In that context we must remember that the salmon farming industry is afflicted not only by sea lice but more recently by amoebic gill disease: £10 million of treatment is being spent on this new salmon plague which is part of the £26 million spent annually on fish treatments within the industry. I am disturbed by news that slice is no longer working as well as a sea lice preventative but encouraged by the use of wrasse as a non-chemical agent.”