In my time as MP, I have been pressing the Government hard for investment into the Institute of Aquaculture and Global Aquatic Food Security and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. Both of these are located at the University of Stirling.
Investment into these institutes will serve as an ignition point for millions of pounds of private investment in the industry, with a potential prize of an additional £254 million in increased gross value, more than 3,000 new jobs, and more than £690 million in additional sales.
Since 1995, the amount of caught fish in the world has been flatlining, but the amount of fish used for food has continued to grow and outpace global population growth. The gap is being filled by the miracle of aquaculture.
These two institutions work together to develop vaccines, cultivation methods and productivity techniques that have had an impact in countries all over the world, including Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.
Our aim is for Stirling to become a world leader in Aquaculture.
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I would like to take the opportunity of this debate on the fishing industry, using the broad definition of that industry as the commercial activity of harvesting, processing and marketing aquatic produce for human consumption, to make a positive request of the Minister. Since 1995, the amount of caught fish in the world has been flatlining, but the amount of fish used for food has continued to grow and outpace global population growth. The gap is being filled by the miracle of aquaculture.
Forty years ago, 93% of seafood came from capture fisheries—trawlers and traditional fishing—and only 7% came from global aquaculture. Today, however, more than 50% of the world’s seafood comes from aquaculture and that figure is only going to rise. The number of aquaculture-produced fish is staggering. Today, more than 50% of globally consumed fish is being produced on fish farms. As of 2014, that is equivalent to 73.8 million tonnes of fish, which equivalent in weight to 377 jumbo jets. That, Madam Deputy Speaker, is a lot of fish. It makes a huge contribution to feeding the world’s population. Aquaculture provides a highly efficient source of animal protein for human consumption and is critical to future food security for the rapidly increasing global population.
It will come as no surprise to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to hear a Scottish Member talk about Scottish food as being the best in the world. Our salmon, born and bred in Scottish waters, is second to none. The growth of aquaculture has allowed this industry to thrive. In 2016, we found 13.7 million salmon in Scotland. According to a DEFRA-commissioned report that was published in July 2017, 85% of the volume of farmed fish and shellfish grown in the UK is produced in Scotland, and 92% of the value of UK aquaculture is produced in Scotland. According to a report commissioned and published this year by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the aquaculture supply chain in Scotland employs over 12,000 people. According to the Food and Drink Federation, so far in 2017, salmon alone is the UK’s No. 1 food export.
If a barrel of oil is worth $50, the equivalent value of a barrel of salmon is more than $1,200. That is why the Norwegian Government’s national policy is that aquaculture is the sustainable industry for when oil runs out. The industry is already estimated to be worth £1.8 billion to the Scottish economy, but we must go for growth. The Scottish national marine plan has a target of increasing production from the current level of 170,000 tonnes to 210,000 tonnes in the coming year. That can be achieved if we focus on productivity, and we can best do that by focusing on the cutting-edge science involved in food production.
That brings me back to my constituency of Stirling. The Institute of Aquaculture and Global Aquatic Food Security is based at Stirling University, as is the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. They work together to develop vaccines, cultivation methods and productivity techniques that have had an impact in countries all over the world, including Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole. With the help of the centre, we can increase productivity in our domestic industry and do our bit to develop a global industry that will ultimately feed the world, which must be a very worthy objective.
Now I come to my request to the Minister. A very important part of the Stirling city region deal is investment in the infrastructure of the Institute of Aquaculture and Global Aquatic Food Security and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. May I press the Minister to help me to secure a £20 million investment as part of the deal? That will serve as an ignition point for millions of pounds of private investment in the industry, with a potential prize of an additional £254 million in increased gross value, more than 3,000 new jobs, and more than £690 million in additional sales. The ambition is very clear. The institute says:
“We are determined that Scotland and the UK remain at the forefront of global aquaculture and that we do not lose the potential for high value employment and sustainable economic growth through innovation and enterprise in aquatic food production.
We have created a bold vision for the development of our aquaculture infrastructure, ensuring that we can match current and future industry needs. This development is underpinned by a scientific strategy that will ensure that Stirling remains synonymous with excellence in aquaculture.”
I ask the Minister to help me to secure the money, so that we can make that a reality.