Outer Hebrides salmon farming seminar

Crick Carleton was invited by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to act as an impartial facilitator for an all-industry meeting on the future of salmon farming in the Outer Hebrides and Scotland. This was prompted by further economic upheaval in the fortunes of the local salmon industry with the closure of yet another salmon processing plant in the Outer Hebrides – with significant impact on local employment in seafood processing in Stornoway.

The meeting was called at the instigation of the local MP, the Hon. Angus McNeil, with the specific purpose of exploring the further development of the aquaculture sector on the Outer Hebrides. This followed two previous Scottish Salmon Summits, in January and June 2008, convened respectively by Mike Russell MSP, Minister for the Environment and by Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise.

The meeting was set against a backdrop of key issues, raised by local politicians and trailed in the local press:

  • the recent closure of Lighthouse Caledonia’s processing plant at Marybank, Stornoway, with the loss of some 100 jobs;
  • local over-reliance on the fortunes and interests of large multinational companies,
  • continuing difficulties in stimulating the growth of locally owned aquaculture enterprises, and
  • the priority of re-establishing salmon processing in the Outer Hebrides.

This was a facilitated meeting, with the discussion divided under five headings:

  • Industry value
  • Profitability and funding
  • Contribution to the local economy
  • Controlling costs
  • Regulation