I have asked the government – the Treasury in particular – to make a down payment on the Stirling city region deal. I asked for £20 million to realise the potential of aquaculture for the UK economy.
In Stirling, we have the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. It is based at Stirling University and it is a world leader in this field. They have developed vaccines, cultivation methods and productivity techniques that have had an impact around the world and with this centre we can develop increased productivity for a domestic industry and do our part to develop a global industry which ultimately will feed the world.
If this investment of around £20 million is forthcoming, it will be an ignition point for millions of pounds of private investment, and the potential prize of an additional £254 million in increased GV a, over 3000 new jobs and over £690 million of additional sales.
There can be no doubt about the bounty of our oceans. Fish make up a significant and growing part of our diet. In 2005 humans consumed an average of 16.4 kg of fish a year, and this has been growing steadily. This growth is especially noteworthy in major developing markets such as China where consumption of fish is closer to 26 kg.
The global population is forecast to grow by 33% by 2050, and there’s not enough land to produce all the protein required to feed the world’s population. However, there’s an obvious problem in that catching fish at continuing high rates from the oceans is not sustainable in the long run.
Industrial fishing around the world is depleting stocks world is possible to create regimes that will preserve stocks that is a finite number of fish that can be removed before this becomes a problem.
Since 1995 there has been a flatlining in the amount of caught fish in the world. The UN food agency puts this at around 90 million tonnes. Since 1995 the amount of fish used for food has continued to grow and outpace the global population growth. This gap is being met by the miracle of aquaculture.
40 years ago 93% of Seafood came from capture fisheries – trawlers and traditional fishing and only 7% came from global aquaculture.
Today 50% of the world’s seafood comes from aquaculture and that is only going to rise.
The growth in agriculture is allowing this industry to thrive. In 2016 we farmed 13.7 million salmon in Scotland. This is 85% of the volume of farmed fish and shellfish grown in the UK and 92% of the value of UK aquaculture. The aquaculture supply chain in Scotland also employs over 12,000 people.
This industry is already worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy but we must go for growth. The Scottish National Marine plan has a target of increasing production from its current level of 175,000 tonnes to 210,000 tonnes in the coming years. We can do this by focusing on productivity and we can best focus on productivity by having a focus on the cutting-edge science around food production.