Globally, aquaculture is the world's fastest growing food producing sector and it is without question one of Scotland's great food success stories. It produces animal protein in one of the most resource and carbon efficient means possible and if you work in one of the many rural communities of Scotland, you will find family members either working within the industry or involved in projects and initiatives that have been supported by local aquaculture businesses. Many of us enjoy the high quality home – grown product of that work on more than a regular basis. Aquaculture, and through that Scottish farmed salmon and rainbow trout, are now synonymous with Scotland and the land of food and drink.
As with any successful sector and particularly with one that aspires to grow sustainably over the next decade, there remain challenges, many of which for aquaculture are directly associated with the environment in which they work. Aquaculture is just one of a number of industries which relies on our marine environment and its protection for the long term is vital.
There is more to do and this Farmed Fish Health Framework with a range of short, medium and long term actions will enable us to pick up the pace of change. This is a collaborative initiative, deliberately so, with the aquaculture sector working with the Scottish Government and its agencies to develop and produce this Framework to address the main challenges that the sector will face, some known, and some yet to emerge. The aim is to enable the sector to grow sustainably but crucially also to minimise impacts for Scotland's marine and wider environment. Some of the actions are already underway, others require further development, but all are important to ensure the sustainable growth of aquaculture in Scotland and to ensure that its success continues to be enjoyed across our nation and further afield.
The framework must now translate into action and deliver tangible progress. There are clear reporting mechanisms with transparency and open communication embedded as key principles. I expect to be kept fully updated, beginning with an update in three months detailing clear timelines for delivery on the identified work streams. This will ensure the momentum and drive exists to achieve real and concrete gains throughout the ten year lifetime of the framework.
I look forward to further progress.
Fergus Ewing, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity