Heads of Scottish industry seek biomass increases

William Stoichevski

New lease types — including some with “Norwegian-style” license concentrations and development permits —  were requested from a receptive Cabinet Secretary, SalmonBusiness has learned. 

Seventeen heads of Scotland’s salmon farmers and the supply chain have sought a change to Scottish aquaculture regulations that’ll allow for the larger biomass concentrations they’ll need to finance grow-out innovations of the type seen in Norway, SalmonBusiness has learned.

The letter was written in October last year but only recently released under the Scottish Government’s access to information disclosure plan.

Read Hydra Salmon hoping to disrupt grow-out model

In a joint letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Colin Blair, CEO of Cooke Aquaculture; Gilpin Bradley; CEO of Wester Ross Salmon; Paddy Campbell, CEO of BioMar; Jim Gallagher, CEO of Scottish Sea Farms and a host of other executives that included supply chain leaders have asked that new rules — now being written up — include the financial incentives to innovate new designs. With no new licenses awarded so far in 2018, and 2017 a slow year, the government and its environmental watch dog, SEPA, have slown growth down to a trickle, hoping R&D will catch up and lead to designs and methods to curb biological issues that have plagued the industry.

Changes sought
Among the changes sought by industry are Norway-style “green licenses” akin to the type Oslo introduced in 2013 to augment commercial and R&D licenses with a permit aimed at stimulating new technology for commercial use.

“As in Norway, a ‘deploy and monitor’ approach could be used,” the industry leaders wrote. “We believe an equivalent mechanism could be designed for the Scottish regulatory and commercial context, with companies able to apply for a green development license at an existing site or at new sites.”

With the industry concerned the new site placement model being developed will limit their future growth, the its focus on “existing sites” use is noticeable. Current consent to grow “effectively precludes producers from gaining consent for farms above 2,500 tonnes maximum allowed standing biomass”.

“We believe this limit to be arbitrary, and that it should be lifted based on advanced modelling and sound science,” the Heads wrote. Again, they pointed to Norway’s “system of three-to-six licenses” combining at some farms for total biomass of between 2,340 tand 4,680 t.

License type: a Marine Harvest research pen

Lice control
“We believe that having fewer, larger sites would improve lice control, through less connectivity and the potential to use more consolidated lice control techniques,” they wrote.

“High energy and exposed” offshore licenses were also being requested by the industry.

“The emerging developments in Norway around this are exciting, and we see scope for an Innovation Site framework to include licenses for higher biomass for such sites,” beyond the current 2,500 t limit.

“The investment, testing and skills development needed to create such sites in Scotland are substantial and not affordable at the current scale of Scottish operations,” they said, adding that they saw these “offshore” grow-out ideas as a “medium-term solution in Scotland, allowing the industry here to monitor ongoing progress overseas”.


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