Sustainable growth of farmed fish

Framework to support Scotland’s top food export sector launched

Far-reaching measures to support sustainable growth across the Scottish fish farming sector have been set out.

The 10 Year Farmed Fish Health Framework has been developed by the aquaculture sector and Scottish Government and its agencies. It includes measures to improve fish health, protect the marine environment, and ensure Scotland’s number one food export grows sustainably.

The strategic plan outlines several key areas of activity, including managing sea lice, ensuring better information flow and transparency, and tackling issues around climate change.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food producing sector and one of Scotland’s great food success stories. We want that success to continue into the future so getting the balance right between future economic growth and protecting the marine environment is vital.  

“Sustainability is at the heart of this framework, which has been developed by all the key partners. It will seek to address current and future health challenges, focus on investment in innovation and ensure appropriate regulation. And while it has long term ambitions, short term action is key. I am clear that I expect all the groups to be up and running in three months and making rapid progress this year.

“The framework sets out a clear and transparent programme of activity which will ensure people at home and around the world can continue to enjoy and benefit from Scotland’s nutritious and sustainable farmed fish.”

Managing Director of Marine Harvest Scotland and co-chair of the Framework Working Group, Ben Hadfield, said:

“Scotland’s Farmed Salmon and Trout sector has become an important contributor the rural and national economy, producing high quality, healthy protein from Scotland’s freshwater and marine environments. 

“Aquaculture’s contribution to the global food production challenge is increasingly significant and has great potential as our Oceans cover 70% of the planet, but yield only 2% of our global food requirement. 

“The Farmed Fish Health Framework sets out collaborative activity to ensure that growth is achieved in the most sustainable way. Ensuring good health status of our Salmon and Trout stocks will maximise economic contribution, whilst minimising the environmental footprint of our farming operations.”



Key objectives of the Farmed Fish Framework include:

  • To provide a strategic, evidence-based approach to the short and long-term improvement of fish health
  • To lead in information sharing and transparency and encourage consistent industry reporting of fish survival, disease and parasite status;
  • To support and promote innovation in fish health management and secure improved productivity, performance, survival and production of high quality and marketable fish;
  • To identify and evidence areas where the regulatory framework could be demonstrably improved;
  • To establish a forum with a long-term view on managing and pre-empting challenges to fish health; and to identify options on the way forward;
  • To set out well-defined work themes for activity with measurable actions and timelines to be identified, including clarity on the most appropriate responsible bodies to conduct the work and how they could be resourced; and
  • To ensure regular public reporting of the Farmed Fish Health Working Group’s progress and that the framework is reviewed regularly by the Working Group.

Key areas of action include:

  • Information Flow and Transparency 
  • Gill Health 
  • Sea Lice
  • Cleaner fish
  • Production Cycle and on-Farm Management
  • Licensing Regime and Medicine Use
  • Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

The framework delivers on a Programme for Government commitment to develop a strategic fish health framework to tackle emerging disease and biological challenges, and to support the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector.

The Scottish Government is currently in the process of establishing a Working Group to look at how we move forward the dialogue on the interaction between wild and farmed salmon. Details on the group and the date of the first meeting will be announced soon.

The full Farmed Fish Health Framework is available on the Scottish Government website. 


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