From left: Salmon Scotland chair Atholl Duncan, Mairi Gougeon, and Tavish Scott with a Wester Ross Salmon fish at the Aquaculture UK trade show held in Aviemore last year.

Salmon sector’s ‘tireless champion’ keeps job in Yousaf reshuffle

Mairi Gougeon retains aquaculture role as Scotland's new First Minister names his cabinet


Mairi Gougeon is to remain as the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs – a role that includes looking after aquaculture – in the cabinet announced by new SNP leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf today.

Gougeon has been a strong supporter of Scotland’s salmon farming sector, while stressing the need for any expansion to be sustainable, and her continuation in the job has pleased trade body Salmon Scotland, which represents fish farmers and others in the sector.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Mairi and we look forward to continuing our positive engagement.

Streamlined licensing

“She fully understands the vital importance of our sector, which contributes £760 million to the economy, and knows how hard our farmers work to prioritise fish welfare and produce one of the most nutritious products we can eat.

“We have a number of issues we want the Scottish Government to prioritise, including the rural housing shortage and the need for a more streamlined licensing regime, so that we can deliver further sustainable growth in Scotland.”

In a letter to Yousaf and leadership contest rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan sent last week, Scott stressed the organisation’s “strong desire to continue the positive relationship we have with the Scottish Government”.

He described Gougeon as a “tireless champion for Scottish salmon”.

Delayed change

Gougeon commissioned an independent review of aquaculture regulation that was carried out by Professor Russel Griggs, an expert in regulatory matters.

Griggs’ report made a number of recommendations for a more streamlined aquaculture regulatory and permitting system, although more than a year later the industry is still waiting for these to be carried out.

Fish Farming Expert understands that one of the delays was opposition to some of recommendations from Mairi McAllan, the minister for environment and land reform. McAllan was today promoted to the cabinet as Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition.

Land reform has been added to Gougeon’s portfolio of rural affairs and islands.