Charlie Cartlidge, a pupil from Balloch Primary School, with Dr Melanie Smith, chair of Scotland's Salmon Festival steering group and Head of Research Development at Inverness College UHI. Charlie won a competition to write a poem about salmon to promote the fesitval. Photo: UHI Inverness College

Aquaculture and anglers urged to work together

Fish farmers and anglers don't always see eye to eye but the organisers of Scotland's Salmon Festival hope they can put any enmity to one side for the greater good of Salmo salar later this month.

The Inverness festival is being staged for the second time following a successful debut in 2015, and its primary aim, according to a statement on the festival website, is “to raise awareness of the Atlantic salmon, its lifecycle, cultural and economic importance in Scotland and the pressures that it currently faces”.

It adds: “For the first time, Scotland’s Salmon Festival brings together a range of interests from across the wild fisheries and aquaculture sectors, promoting constructive engagement and developing mutual understanding. It recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing our iconic wild salmon and sea trout fisheries, together with the benefits that an environmentally sustainable and competitive salmon farming industry can bring to Scotland.

Cooking demonstrations will take place in the Marine Harvest Theatre Kitchen at Bught Park. Photo: John MacPherson

“All kinds of food production, including aquaculture, will have some impact on the environment. The challenge is to minimise these impacts in a way that ensures that wild and farmed salmon can co-exist. In recent years our understanding of the interactions between wild and farmed salmon has improved. In response, the aquaculture industry has significantly increased its efforts in relation to the prevention of escapes and the control of sea lice. There is still much work to be done, but the probability of success is much higher if all interests can work together in the spirit of partnership and mutual trust.

“It is hoped that Scotland’s Salmon Festival will further encourage cooperation between scientists, the farming industry, Government and the wild fisheries sector.”

Two-day conference

The event kicks off on Tuesday, August 29 with an evening of salmon-themed films at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. Wednesday sees the start of a two-day conference, Atlantic Salmon Marine Ecology: Knowns and Unknowns.

On day one speakers include Professor Eric Verspoor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Andy Moore of  the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and David Morris of Marine Scotland Science, who will talk about tracking studies of post-smolts on Scotland’s west coast.

The second day includes a presentation by Marine Harvest’s Ragnar Joensen, titled Salmon Farming in the Coastal Zone: minimising interactions.

Enjoy the collaboration

A fair will be held in Bught Park, opposite Little Isle Pool, on Friday and Saturday, and will include salmon cookery demonstrations at the Marine Harvest Theatre Kitchen. A fly casting competition will be held at the Pool over the weekend.

Marine Harvest is among the event’s sponsors. Marine Harvest Scotland’s business development manager, Steve Bracken, said: “We were involved in 2015 and we’re still on the steering committee.

“We do enjoy the collaboration at the Salmon Festival. We think it’s a very positive coming together of wild fisheries and salmon farming, and it’s important that we can and do work together.”

See the full festival itinerary here.

Published: 04/08/2017 at 7:12 am

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