Professor Russel Griggs will lead work to reform Scottish fish farming regulation. Photo: South of Scotland Enterprise.
Professor Russel Griggs will lead work to reform Scottish fish farming regulation. Photo: South of Scotland Enterprise.

Regulatory expert chosen to lead fish farm rules reform

Scotland’s salmon farmers have welcomed the appointment of experienced business, public and third sector regulatory expert Professor Russel Griggs to lead the Scottish Government’s promised reform of fish farming regulation.


In the run-up to last May’s Scottish Parliament election, the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) pledged to make fish farming development more responsive, transparent and efficient by creating a single determining authority.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said: “Scotland’s salmon farmers welcome the appointment of Professor Griggs to lead regulatory reform of our sector. We have confidence that he will fulfil his role effectively and professionally given his expertise in the Scottish business landscape.

Tavish Scott: Industry has been requesting positive regulatory change for a long time.
Tavish Scott: Industry has been requesting positive regulatory change for a long time.

“Scotland’s salmon farmers have been requesting positive regulatory change for a long time. It would bring Scotland in line with other salmon producing countries like Norway, and therefore improve our industry’s competitiveness.

‘Better regulation, not less’

“It’s about having a regulatory regime that works effectively for salmon businesses, wider society and the government. We want to see better regulation that improves the efficiency of the planning system, not less regulation.

“Today marks the first step in delivering on this important manifesto promise.”

Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said that while aquaculture is a significant contributor to the rural economy, “reports and parliamentary activity over the last few years have made clear that the regulatory landscape is contentious and there is a need for improved efficiency, effectiveness and transparency”.

Griggs said: “I very much welcome the opportunity to lead this important review.

“Aquaculture plays a major role in maintaining sustainable rural communities and the economy as a whole and this review is both timely and necessary.

The SNP's manifesto promise

Fish farming is something that Scotland is well placed to do well in, but it must grow sustainably, in harmony with the marine environment that supports it.

We will reform and streamline regulatory processes so that development is more responsive, transparent and efficient.

At the heart of our new approach there will be a single determining authority for new farm consents modelled on the regulatory regime in Norway. This will bring greater clarity, transparency and speed to the process.

We will expect producers to contribute much more to the communities which support them so we will also explore how a Norwegian-style auction system for new farm developments might generate significant income to support inspection and welfare services, provide real community benefit on islands and in remote rural areas and support innovation and enterprise.

We will support innovation in aquaculture, for example, by exploring the development of closed containment fish production on land and explore the potential to produce more shellfish in warm-water, land-based farms to cut the amount of unsustainably produced fish and shellfish being imported into Scotland.

“The industry faces significant challenges and also has its critics, but I will approach this review with an open mind and engage with stakeholders from across the aquaculture spectrum.

“Only by doing this will we be able to deliver improvements in the regulatory landscape in the short-term and identify options for further reform in the longer term.”

Cross-sector experience

Griggs, who has a degree from Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University and is an honorary professor of Glasgow University, started his business life in marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, and has gone on to hold senior roles across a variety of different sectors, including textiles, design, business development, banking and investment.

He is chair of several organisations and committees, including the Institute of Occupational Medicine, Dumfries and Galloway College, the audit committee of VisitScotland, and most pertinently the Scottish Government’s independent regulatory review group in Scotland.

Russel is currently chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, the recently created economic development agency for the south of Scotland, and led the team that created it prior to that.