SAMS urges MSPs for more salmon farm research

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Scientists have called for greater research into the effects of salmon farming in Scotland, as an inquiry at Holyrood begins.

Researchers from the Scottish Association for Marine Science based at Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg published a review last month on the Environmental Impacts Of Salmon Farming in Scotland.

The report authors gave evidence to the Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform (ECCLR) committee on Tuesday last week in the Scottish Parliament.

They  argued an expansion in salmon farming would require a greater need for research, when compared with aquaculture leaders like Norway, and a consideration of how the growing demand for fish feed would be met.

Committee convenor Graeme Dey MSP asked how long it would take to build up a ‘body of robust science’ to fill these knowledge gaps.

Professor Nick Owens, director of SAMS, said: ‘We would need to double or treble the current effort going on in Scotland. You are looking at a decade of really intensive work and we will need to up our game by an order of magnitude.’

Committee member Alex Rowley MSP said: ‘Throughout this evidence session, it seems to me that there is a lack of data and research in so many areas and Norway seems to be so much further ahead than us in terms of investment and research. Would that be a fair conclusion to draw?’

‘In my opinion, absolutely,’ Dr Adam Hughes responded. ‘The level of investment in research in Norway is much higher, as is the level of technical knowledge.’