Marks and Spencer (M&S), which operates in 50 countries, has come out in support of sustainable salmon farming
By Fabian Dawson
Marks and Spencer, the iconic UK retailer, has come out in support of sustainable salmon farming in a submission to the Scottish parliament’s inquiry into the aquaculture industry.
The international, multichannel retailer operating in more than 50 countries with 85,000 people worldwide, also said it is concerned about how contentious the issues in Scottish salmon farming are and how polarised and vocal the stakeholder debate has become.
“It is our view that the future success of the industry is dependent on a positive public perception, so there may be a role for the Scottish Government acting as a convener of stakeholders to help develop lasting solutions to secure the future sustainable development of the industry in Scotland, the company said.
Salmon is Scotland’s single biggest food export – worth £600m (1.05 million CAD) – and is estimated to provide nearly 2,500 jobs with thousands more supported by the aquaculture sector in rural and coastal communities, said the BBC.
Many of the larger farms in Scotland are operated by companies than have operations in Canada. In 2016, the salmon aquaculture industry in Canada was valued at $1 billion.
Canadian fish farmers, who are already heavily regulated, have come under attack by foreign funded NGOs wanting to shut down the industry, especially in British Columbia.
Like Scotland, Canada has established an independent panel led by its chief science officer Dr. Mona Nemer to establish the appropriate use of scientific evidence in decisions concerning aquaculture and provide guidance on the transparent public communication of the scientific evidence.
Canadian salmon farmers, who support the panel’s objectives, have also called on the government to establish a Federal Aquaculture Act.
A Federal Aquaculture Act is critical for protecting the environment and growing the industry sustainably, said Timothy Kennedy, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
M & S, which is globally renowned for its sourcing and traceability codes of practice described farmed salmon as its “most important seafood raw material by both volume and value”
“As a responsible retailer, M&S is also passionately committed to supporting the local communities within which we operate. This means we are committed to sourcing ethically and responsibly and working in close partnership with our suppliers to make sure they promote decent working conditions, high animal welfare standards and improved sustainability across the supply base,” the company said in its submission.
Earlier, the inquiry heard from several scientists including Professors Herve Migaud and James Bron, from Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and Professor Paul Tett, from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), and economist Steve Westbrook.
‘The impression is that we’re getting a lot more sea lice, but if you look at actual figures, numbers of sea lice are not increasing. Many farms may have no problems with sea lice, some sites have serious problems; mostly, sea lice are under control in Scotland…the average has remained relatively static.,” said Bron.
“To manage to stay on top of that is quite a feat. The industry has not sat back,’ he said, noting that there had been more innovation in treatments in the last five years than there had been across a much longer period, according to a report in fishupdate.com