Page last updated at 23:59 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 00:59 UK

Salmon farmer regulation warning

Salmon farmer
Almost all salmon farming investment was spent in the Highlands and Islands

Salmon farmers have warned too much regulation could limit future investment in their industry.

The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, (SSPO), said the industry had invested nearly £85m in Scotland over the last three years.

But SSPO chairman Prof Phil Thomas warned current regulations did not encourage development opportunities.

The SSPO said the level of investment had risen year-on-year from £19.5m in 2006 to £35m in 2008.

The organisation said it represented more than 95% of Scottish salmon producers.

The organisation's first annual report showed 96% of the investment had been in the Highlands and Islands area.

When the salmon sector performs well, many other parts of the Scottish economy benefit hugely
Prof Phil Thomas

That investment represented £35m in Shetland, £23m in Argyll & Bute, £15m in Highland , £5m in the Western Isles and £3m in Orkney.

Prof Thomas said: "Capital investments are crucial to the sustainability of many remote, rural areas.

"They help to safeguard employment and the viability of community resources.

"If we are to continue to attract these major investments, it is essential that the planning and regulatory system is speedier, more efficient and lighter in touch."

The majority of the investment (£33m) went on measures to improve containment such as nets, pens and moorings.

Sixteen million pounds went towards machinery for filleting, primary processing and added value production, while £15m was ploughed into farming infrastructure such as state-of-the-art feeding systems, boats, buildings and land.

'Sustainable production'

Prof Thomas added: "With the demand for salmon increasing globally as people seek a healthier diet, we must continue to encourage policy decisions that support further investment.

"When the salmon sector performs well, many other parts of the Scottish economy benefit hugely.

Scott Landsburgh, SSPO chief executive, added: "In these challenging economic times, a confident, growing primary food production industry is of major benefit to a small economy trading in an international market.

"It is our goal to be one of the leading countries in the world for sustainable production of high quality salmon.

"This can only be achieved with the support of government, both local and national, and other key stakeholders in the industry."

The salmon farming industry claims to support 6,200 full and part-time jobs in Scotland, many in remote rural areas on the west coast and islands.

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