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Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart with Shetland regional manager David Brown during a visit to Cooke Aquaculture Scotland's Vee Taing salmon farm today. Photo: Cooke Aquaculture Scotland.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart with Shetland regional manager David Brown during a visit to Cooke Aquaculture Scotland's Vee Taing salmon farm today. Photo: Cooke Aquaculture Scotland.

Shetland Liberal Democrat MSP Beatrice Wishart has visited Cooke Aquaculture Scotland’s Vee Taing salmon farm off Uyeasound in Unst and the company’s packing station in Mid Yell.

“It’s many years since I was last out on a salmon farm and production has changed considerably since then including technological advances,” Wishart told the company’s website.

“The aquaculture sector and sustainable production of high-quality Shetland salmon is vital to our local economy.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart at Cooke's Yell Packing Station today. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: Cooke.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart at Cooke's Yell Packing Station today. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: Cooke.

Already knowledgeable

Wishart’s visit was hosted by Cooke’s Shetland regional manager David Brown and Yell Packing Station manager Christine Nicholson.

“We are grateful to Beatrice Wishart for taking the time to visit us so soon after the election,” said Brown.

“Beatrice is clearly already very knowledgeable of our sector, and we appreciated having the opportunity to explain what we do and answer her questions.

Support is important

“She got her feet wet and saw some beautiful salmon out on the water and then saw Label Rouge salmon going through the packing station destined for dinner tables in more than 16 countries worldwide.

“As a family-owned company having the support of the people who live on these islands is so important to us. It was nice that some of the 132 people we employ in Shetland got the chance to speak with her to explain what they do for us and how important aquaculture is to the lifeblood of the communities they live in.”

Wishart succeeded Tavish Scott as Shetland MSP after he stood down in 2019 to take up a position with the Scottish Rugby Union. Scott is now chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO).

Backing aquaculture

The Liberal Democrats were one of only two major parties making a manifesto commitment to support aquaculture ahead of the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, along with the ruling Scottish National Party.

The Conservative and Labour parties didn’t mention farmed salmon, despite the fact that it often tops the list of the UK’s most valuable food export. The Greens, who have been having talks with the SNP about a “cooperation agreement”, want to phase out net pen farming.

In July a report commissioned by Shetland Islands Council and completed by the respected Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University confirmed aquaculture remains the largest sector of the Shetland economy, worth more than £243 million or 20% of the islands’ total economic output.