Scottish salmon farmers are asking UK politicians to make changes

Tavish Scott, CEO of Salmon Scotland.

Scotland: Salmon Scotland has issued various requests to the Governments of England and Scotland to promote the development of the activity.

Scottish salmon farmers have put forward a list of changes they want politicians in Westminster, England, and Holyrood, Scotland, to make to help the sector thrive.

Scottish salmon was the UK's most valuable food export last year, but trade body Salmon Scotland said the sector faces a number of trade challenges.

Increased post-Brexit bureaucracy continues to drive up costs and delays for Scottish salmon farmers, while the UK recession has damaged the economic environment.

“The slow pace of regulatory reform by the Scottish Government increases the challenges facing aquaculture businesses,” Salmon Scotland reported.

Ahead of this year's elections, all political parties have been urged to do more to support the sector, with a series of demands set out.

The organization also warned that other countries are looking to increase salmon sales at a faster rate, highlighting how important it is for Scotland to be seen as “open for business”.

Tavish Scott, CEO of Salmon Scotland, said: “It is testament to the hard work of salmon farmers in rural Scotland that our fish has been ranked as the UK’s biggest export in 2023 in such difficult economic circumstances.”

“The Scottish salmon sector is a bright spot in the Scottish and UK economy and is ripe for investment and job creation. This is even more important given that the UK is now officially in recession and there is no growth in Scotland, so we need more government support to ensure that Scotland is open for business. Scott added: “Other countries are striving to emulate our success, and it is important that our sector, which provides jobs for 12,500 people and supports our remote communities, is supported so that we can achieve sustainable growth for decades to come.”

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What Salmon Scotland wants from Westminster:

Immigration: A more informed approach to the movement of labor into the UK, recognizing the unique challenges faced by rural and coastal farming communities in Scotland, including changing basic definitions of workers and a broader public signal that the UK is open to people coming here to work.

Relationship with the European Union: A serious and practical approach to the UK's relationship with the EU, with a clear focus on the country's export business that relies on a positive and professional relationship with France and other EU countries.

Veterinary Agreement: Creating a tailored, mutually appropriate sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement between the UK and the EU that returns efficiency to supply chains on both sides to help consumers and businesses in both regions.

International Trade: Smoother trade flow and access to new markets. Specifically, the lack of new electronic certification for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and problems with the current legacy system are costing salmon farmers millions of pounds every year. Salmon Scotland says improving the certification program must be an urgent priority for Defra.

What Salmon Scotland wants from Edinburgh:

Regulatory reform: Changes to the culture facility licensing program, which is long and involves many regulatory bodies. If the system were simplified, as Professor Russell Griggs recommended in a recent independent review, the sector could achieve the responsible and sustainable growth needed to continue creating jobs in Scotland.

Rural housing: In many remote areas of Scotland, agricultural centers are vital to the future of local businesses and communities, but lack of access to rural housing represents a major barrier for workers. The sector is calling for reforms to ensure a significant proportion of seabed license fees paid by salmon farmers are reinvested directly in rural communities, with a particular focus on creating new housing.

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