Nikos Steiropoulos: The future is bright for Scotland’s salmon farms

30. August 2017

As seen in The Scotsman, 15 August 2017

Did you know that salmon is Scotland’s number 1 food export? It is sold in more than 60 countries and contributes massively to our economy providing jobs and millions of pounds of investment to some of the most rural parts of the nation.

What you might not be aware of is the huge supply chain that exists to support Scotland’s aquaculture industry, taking in everything from processing and packaging to sustaining the management of fish health and disease.

As a Scottish company of fish vets and health support professionals based in Clydebank, we provide our services and expertise to fish farms across Scotland as they seek to rise to the challenges of ensuring good fish health.

And whilst the sector faces up to the challenges inherent in catering for sustainability versus demand from an ever expanding global market, it is worth noting Scotland’s successes in meeting the issues which affect the market worldwide. Scotland’s flourishing salmon and trout industry has a positive story to tell about managing sustainable growth, hand in hand with cutting edge scientific expertise.

Of course, the sector has its fair share of detractors, however if we are to collectively meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious growth targets and those set by the industry to double production by 2030 in Scotland, we need to continue to go about the work of successfully managing statutory environmental footprint requirements and animal health obligations while putting a quality product on dinner tables in Scotland and across the globe.

With such an ambitious growth target there needs to be an increased understanding across Scotland about the growing role of aquaculture and its supply chain in our economy and about the responsibility for sustainability that the sector itself takes very seriously.

At Europharma we will continue to support farms with leading edge, innovative means of tackling disease prevention. Indeed, fish health is a multi-faceted area that requires constant vigilance and readiness – as in every other farmed animal production system.  The Scottish aquaculture industry has proven it is up to the task and new areas of best practice are constantly being developed.

A recent trend has seen the industry using fewer medicines in its treatments over time. While part of the reason for this has been a growth in medicine resistance, another factor has been advances in mechanical delousing techniques and growth in the use of biological control, wrasse and lumpsuckers – cleaner fish that eat sea lice. Concerns remain about hatcheries being able to supply the growing demand, but I’m confident the industry will soon adapt.

While clearly there are challenges ahead for Scottish aquaculture, thankfully we have some of the best and brightest talents working on, and supporting our farms. This spans from research institutes, fish health staff, in-house development teams at the farming companies and of course production staff of all levels and disciplines. The future for fish farming in Scotland is bright so let’s get behind it.

Nikos Steiropoulos, Managing Director, Europharma Scotland Ltd.