Stirling’s exciting future: The hub of Aquaculture excellence.

On Friday, I had an excellent meeting with Heather Jones of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), which is responsible for connecting industry funding and academia research. It was exciting to hear the Centre’s plans for making Stirling the hub of Aquaculture excellence in the UK.

During the meeting, I was told that Salmon could be the answer to global food demand, as it takes the equivalent of 1kg of wheat to make 1kg of Salmon, where it would take 8kg for 1kg of beef, and 2kg for 1kg of chicken. Because of this, there could be a lot of demand for salmon in the future.

However, Scotland is not well-placed to meet that demand. In spite of our Salmon being world-renowned for its quality, and second only to chocolate in terms of food exports, growth in the Scottish Aquaculture industry has been sluggish, increasing by 1.3% per year since 2000. This is compared to over 10% per year for the Norwegian industry over the same period. Currently, we risk losing out to Norway, who currently produce 1.2 million tons of Salmon per year, compared to our 170,000 tons.

This is where the SAIC comes in. They aim to double our production by 2025, and to do this they should receive money from the City Region Deal. This could result in 300 jobs -mostly in Stirling- and will create a centre that pushes up to £649million worth of industry investment into research, allowing fish farmers to make use of the excellent work being done in Stirling University.

To bring Scottish aquaculture up to standard, we need a government that says ‘aquaculture is an important sector for us’. I aim to bring the case of aquaculture into the House of Commons, and will support the SAIC as they grow with the extra funding they should receive.