Populations of wild salmon and sea trout are at critically low levels. The reasons for this are complex and not yet fully understood. The Scottish Government has identified twelve groups of hazards, including fish farming, that may contribute to the decline of wild salmonids. It is well known that the interaction between aquaculture and wild salmonids is controversial and many strong views are held from different perspectives.
It was against this background that the Interactions Working Group was established. At the outset it was acknowledged by the Group that reaching a consensus position on the way ahead would not be easy. However, all members of the Group recognised the importance of the task in hand and embraced this challenge. The agreed recommendations reflect the professional approach taken by the Group and their determination to address these difficult issues in a constructive manner.
We have deliberately kept our Report short. We saw little point in summarising what has already been said. We focused instead on what could be done to make things better and have accordingly produced 42 recommendations. Although these recommendations cover a large number of issues, we believe they complement each other. To that extent these are presented to the Scottish Government as a package of measures which we believe should be implemented in full. If our recommendations are accepted, then I believe it will be possible to build a robust and durable framework that will mnimise the impact of fish farming on wild salmonids.
Chair, Salmon Interactions Working Group