The Salmon Farm Monitor
An rud bhios na do bhròin, cha bhi e na do thiomhnadh
“That which you have wasted will not be there for future generations”
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE 1st December 2003
SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE ADMITS THEY HAVEN’T A CLUE ABOUT HOW MANY JOBS FISH FARMING SUPPORTS TODAY
The Scottish Executive (SE), responding to a request from the SFPG for an independent survey into the number of jobs fish farming supports in Scotland, has confessed that they ‘assume’ a figure of 6,500 and that this assumption is based upon information gathered six years ago.
Gordon Hart of the Environment and Rural Affairs Department, replying on behalf of First Minister Jack McConnell, said: “That study  showed that there were 6,500 salmon related jobs in Scotland, of which 4,700 were in the Highlands and Islands. Since that time the figure of 6,500 has been used as an indicator of the levels of employment that the industry supports.”
SFPG chairman Bruce Sandison has written again to the First Minister asking for an answer to his key question, ignored by Gordon Hart: “Would you agree with me that the value placed upon the employment the industry provides is a cornerstone of the political and financial support that the industry receives from the Scottish Executive?”
Mr Sandison accuses the SE of ‘guess work’ whilst continuing to pour tax-payer cash into an ailing industry: “Do you agree with me that this assumption is pure ‘guess work’ and entirely inappropriate when so many millions of pounds is being given to the fish farmers? Does it not further underline the need for a new and independent inquiry to establish factual employment figures in this industry?”
The SFPG also claim that the 1998 study was fundamentally flawed because it relied upon data collected prior to the infectious salmon anaemia outbreak of May 1998. Neither did it take account of jobs lost in areas such as sport angling or tourism because of the impact of fish farming on wild salmonid stocks. Jobs losses since then, for instance, where automated labour-saving feeding systems have been introduced, have been similarly ignored.
Mr Sandison concluded, “Given all of the above, and the number of job losses announced today by Marine Harvest - in Benbecula and South Uist, and their closure of farms in Loch Roag in Lewis and their decision to relocate halibut farming to Norway - and further job losses at Lighthouse of Scotland farms at Mid Strome, and predicted for Loch Torridon and Lochcarrron, is it not clear that the Executive’s support for this industry should be based on fact, rather than on fancy?”
FURTHER INFORMATION AND PRESS ENQUIRIES TO
Hysbackie, Tongue, by Lairg, Sutherland 1V27 4XJ, Scotland