Urgent action must be taken to improve the regulation of the salmon farming industry and to improve fish health and meet environmental challenges, a Holyrood Committee has concluded.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has said there should be more effective regulations to address fish health issues and minimise the environmental impact of the industry.
Concern over the impact of sea lice from fish farms on wild salmon saw MSPs demand a shift towards locating new operations away from wild salmon migratory routes.
They also said a more strategic approach should be taken to identify areas that are unsuitable for fish farms and discuss with the industry potential for moving poorly-sited operations.
The scope for locating salmon farms offshore should also be examined.
Committee convener Edward Mountain said the industry had to recognise “serious challenges” such as “control of sea lice, lowering fish mortality rates and reducing the sector’s impact on the environment” must be addressed “as a priority”.
He added: “The committee is strongly of the view that the status quo in terms of regulation and enforcement is not acceptable and that we need to raise the bar in Scotland by setting enhanced and more effective standards.”
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said she welcomed the committee’s conclusions on siting farms.