We are delighted by today's Environment Committee's Report into the environmental impacts of salmon farming. Last month John Aitchison of Friends of the Sound of Jura gave compelling evidence to the Committee and we are grateful to its MSP members for their decisive conclusions which include:
‘Scotland is at a critical point in considering how salmon farming develops in a sustainable way in relation to the environment. The planned expansion of the industry over the next 10-15 years will place huge pressures on the environment. Industry growth targets of 300,000 - 400,000 tonnes by 2030 do not take into account the capacity of the environment to farm that quantity of salmon. If the current issues are not addressed this expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.’
'The Committee is deeply concerned that the development and growth of the sector is taking place without a full understanding of the environmental impacts. The Committee considers an independent assessment of the environmental sustainability of the predicted growth of the sector is necessary.’
'There are significant gaps in knowledge, data, monitoring and research around the adverse risk the sector poses to ecosystem functions, their resilience and the supply of ecosystem services.’
'Scotland’s public bodies have a duty to protect biodiversity and this must be to the fore when considering the expansion of the sector.’
‘The current consenting and regulatory framework, including the approach to sanctions and enforcement, is inadequate to address the environmental issues. The Committee is not convinced the sector is being regulated sufficiently, or regulated sufficiently effectively. This needs to be addressed urgently because further expansion must be on an environmentally sustainable basis.'
'There need to be changes to current farming practice. The industry needs to demonstrate it can effectively manage and mitigate its impacts.’
‘Scotland needs an ecosystems-based approach to planning the industry’s growth and development…’
'As a matter of urgency the Committee wishes to see independent research commissioned, including a full cost-benefit analysis of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)… ‘
‘…further development and expansion must be on the basis of a precautionary approach and must be based on resolving the environmental problems. The status quo is not an option.’
Thank you to all of you who signed the petition and who wrote to the Committee with your concerns.
This report will be sent to the Scottish Parliament's rural economy committee which is conducting a wider inquiry into the sector.
Read article on the BBC website - MSPs warning over salmon farming impact on environment.
‘As a result of the committee’s conclusions about the present inadequacies of the consenting and regulatory framework , the Friends of the Sound of Jura has decided to engage with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to learn more about how fish farms are consented and regulated.'