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SSPO chief set to broadcast salmon farming achievements

SSPO chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird sees the salmon inquiry as a chance to spread a positive message. Photo: FFE
SSPO chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird sees the salmon inquiry as a chance to spread a positive message. Photo: FFE

Scottish salmon spokesperson Julie Hesketh-Laird will today champion the industry on BBC Radio 4’s consumer affairs programme You & Yours, broadcast at 12.15pm.

The recently appointed chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), will be interviewed after the programme airs a pre-recorded package with a ghillie and fish farming opponent Don Staniford.

The programme is likely to focus at least in part on a recent report by the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) committee on salmon farming’s impact on the environment.

Committee members said plans to double the size of the industry by 2030 were environmentally unsustainable unless farming practices changed.

Their recommendations are being considered as part of a broader inquiry into salmon farming by the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee, something Hesketh-Laird believes is an opportunity for salmon farming to publicise the huge strides it has made since a previous report in 2002.

There is a fantastic central premise to the report that the environment committee are supportive of salmon farming in a sustainable way

She told Fish Farming Expert: “My view on the environment committee’s report is that there is a fantastic central premise to the report that the environment committee are supportive of salmon farming in a sustainable way, and that to me is the absolute mark of the starting point in all of the rest of the inquiry.

“That shone out for me, that there was strong support for the salmon industry growing in a sustainable way, and that was a core point that came across. That to me is the absolute starting point in moving us forward. We agree with that, the parliamentarians around the table agree, I’ve seen (ECCLR convener) Graeme Dey, on his podcast, talking about his support for the salmon industry, that there is a strong future for the salmon sector, and that came through in the ECCLR report.

“If you start from that premise, the next stage in the REC inquiry is about building a broader picture of the work that has taken place since 2002, and the investment that’s gone in, the research, the hugely innovative industry that I’m beginning to get to know, and to help inform our parliamentarians of the good that the industry does for Scotland and all of its communities.”

The You & Yours episode, which also covers the topics of recycling confusion, redundant churches, and turnips, will be available on the BBC’s iPlayer shortly after broadcast.

It is the BBC’s second look at salmon farming in two days, following a report on early evening TV programme The One Show about the granting of permission for two new organic salmon farms on Skye, also available on iPlayer.