Finlay Carson, the Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, is convenor (chair) of the Rural Affairs & Islands (RAI) Committee, which is holding a follow-up inquiry into progress made in Scottish salmon farming since 2018.

MSPs launch follow-up salmon inquiry

Parliamentary committee seeks update on progress made since 2018


The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs & Islands (RAI) Committee has officially launched a follow-up inquiry to ask if recommendations made to the Scottish Government in 2018, to address economic, social, and environmental issues related to the salmon farming industry in Scotland, have been implemented.

In November 2018, the then Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee (RECC) said that urgent action needed to be taken to improve the regulation of the Scottish salmon farming industry and to address fish health and environmental challenges.

At the time, the Committee set out 65 recommendations about how challenges, such as the control of sea lice, rising fish mortalities and the need to reduce the sector’s impact on the environment, should be addressed. The Committee also said that the current standards of regulation of the sector were ‘not acceptable’.

Premium product

Rural Affairs & Islands Committee convener, Finlay Carson, said: “The RECC recommendations of 2018 aimed to put in place measures that would maintain the reputation of Scottish salmon as an internationally recognised premium product, and so preserving the significant economic and social value this industry brings to Scotland.

“Picking up the baton from our predecessors, we will find out what progress has been made in developing the industry since 2018 and how the various fish health, environmental and climate change challenges it faces are being addressed.”

Over the course of nine evidence sessions, the RAI Committee will revisit the recommendations hearing from aquaculture stakeholders; salmon farming representatives; non-governmental organisations; and regulators.

In September, the Committee will meet with local community groups to learn more about the impact salmon farming is having on local communities. Members will also visit the Scottish Association for Marine Science and salmon farms to increase their understanding of how the sector is developing.

Full picture

Tavish Scott, chief executive of trade body Salmon Scotland, has welcomed the follow-up inquiry, particularly plans for committee members to visit a salmon farm this autumn to learn more about the reality of salmon farming.

Salmon Scotland says it is important that MSPs get a full picture of the salmon sector, and don’t just listen to urban-based activists who want to close farms.

“As one of the biggest employers in rural Scotland, generating nearly £800 million for the economy and raising the UK’s largest food export, it’s absolutely right for the committee to continue its ongoing work programme to look at our nation’s vital salmon sector,” said Scott, who is himself a former MSP.

Tavish Scott: "It’s absolutely right for the committee to continue its ongoing work programme to look at our nation’s vital salmon sector."

Excited by visit

“We look forward to supporting the committee’s work and highlighting the innovation and investment in making our low carbon sector even more sustainable.

“We are particularly excited about taking committee members to a salmon farm – for many of them for the first time – so they can see for themselves the reality of salmon farming in 2024, and most importantly, listen to the hard-working farmers who take care of their fish and deliver the highest animal welfare standards anywhere in the world.”

Further information about previous Committee work on salmon farming and updates on the progress on the RAI inquiry (including a timeline) can be found here.

The inquiry timetable (subject to change) is:

  • 5 June: Evidence from non-governmental organisations and aquaculture scientists
  • 12 June: Evidence on farmed fish health; Evidence from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • 19 June: Evidence on licensing and consenting issues
  • 26 June: Evidence from the Salmon Interactions Working Group
  • 22 to 23 September: Committee visit
  • 25 September: Evidence from salmon farming industry representatives
  • 2 October: Industry roundtable
  • 9 October: Evidence from the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands