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Ben Hadfield, MD of Marine Harvest Scotland, will co-chair the working group. Image: Marine Harvest.
Ben Hadfield, MD of Marine Harvest Scotland, will co-chair the working group. Image: Marine Harvest.

Salmon farmers have joined with the Scottish government to develop a framework for new legislation and guidance to improve fish health.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing announced the move at the meeting of the Aquaculture Industry Leadership Group in Inverness today.

Key areas of work will include knowledge exchange, cooperation and openness, sea lice and innovation.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing: Putting welfare of fish
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing: Putting welfare of fish "at the heart of production". Photo: Scottish Government

Marine Scotland's head of science, Colin Moffat, and Marine Harvest Scotland managing director, Ben Hadfield, will co-chair the Strategic Framework for Fish Health Working Group which will meet later this month, with a final draft framework expected next spring.

Commitment to fish health

Hadfield said: “Under this vital initiative, on which the industry are committed to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government, we will increase our transparency as a sector, increase the deployment of practical and environmentally friendly fish health strategies, and evidence our current and long term commitment to fish health.

“I expect this initiative will strengthen Scotland’s reputation as a major producer of healthy seafood and further develop the significant contribution made to the Scottish economy by aquaculture?."

Ewing said: “This framework reflects the importance of fish health to our aquaculture industry, and puts the welfare of our marine environment and fish at the heart of production.

Industry's vision

“It recognises that innovation is essential to deliver the industry’s vision for aquaculture, to maintain Scotland’s reputation for quality produce and enhance our position on the global finfish production stage. It will also focus on creating an environment in which fosters innovation and drives sustainable growth.

“The group has an ambitious but deliverable timetable and I look forward to working with the co-chairs to make this happen.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham added: “It is imperative the right balance is struck between the continued growth of Scotland’s aquaculture, whilst ensuring fish health and environmental interactions are managed.

"I welcome today’s announcement as very much a furtherance of the commitment Mr Ewing and I made in March this year to maintain a successful, sustainable, low carbon, environmentally principled aquaculture sector for Scotland?."