The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, led by Edward Mountain MSP, published the report to help inform a wider inquiry into the current state of the industry, which is being carried out by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
- The planned expansion of salmon farming over the next 10 to 15 years, which aims to grow the industry by 300,000 – 400,000 tonnes, is unsustainable and may, without changes in approach, cause “irrecoverable damage”.
- The salmon farming industry raises the same environmental concerns as in 2002, but the scale and impact has expanded.
- The committee is “deeply concerned” that the growth of the sector is taking place without a full understanding of the environmental impacts.
- The committee is not convinced the sector is being regulated sufficiently and this requires urgent attention.
- There are significant gaps in data, monitoring and research around the adverse risk the sector poses.
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Convener, Graeme Dey MSP, said: “The sector has ambitious expansion targets but the committee is concerned as to how these can be achieved in an environmentally-sustainable way.
“The sector continues to grow and expand with little meaningful thought given to the impact this will have on the environment. In the committee’s view, if the current environmental impact issues are not addressed, the expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage.
“The committee is supportive of aquaculture but expansion must be based on a precautionary approach and on resolving environmental problems. The status quo, in terms of approach and regulation, is not an option.
“In raising awareness of the serious environmental concerns, the committee hopes to helpfully inform the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s upcoming wider scrutiny of the salmon industry in Scotland.”