Members of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee have backed the general principles of the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill, but also argued it needed to be “more robust”.

During their scrutiny of the legislation, MSPs visited salmon rivers, wild fisheries hatcheries, fish farms and processing plants to build up a detailed understanding of the industry.

However, their report revealed that their work was “hindered by some of the
more adversarial, tit-for-tat engagement of sections of both the aquaculture and
wild fisheries sectors”.

The committee said this led to them receiving “an excessive number of
communications” from both sides “making claims and counter-claims”.

The MSPs added: “This made it difficult at times for the Committee to assess
the best way forward.”

And they said: “As important as this legislation is, perhaps of equal
significance for Scotland in the long-term is improving the current relationship
between the wild and farmed fishing sectors, with a view to establishing closer,
productive, co-operative working relationships for the overall benefit of the
people of Scotland and the environment.”

The report went on: “Both sectors need legislation which enables them to
develop sustainably and to co-exist as harmoniously as possible.

“The Committee wants this legislation to set the framework, in the short,
medium and long-term for both a sustainable aquaculture industry, and a
sustainable wild fisheries sector.”

While MSPs backed the general principles of the Bill, they also said it was
“very much the starting point”,

They said if the legislation proceeded further it “will require amendment in
order to make it more robust”, adding that the Scottish Government had already
indicated it planned to make some changes if Holyrood backs the Bill at stage

Mr Gibson said: “Whilst the Committee does welcome this legislation, it is
clear that it will need to be amended to ensure it is fully fit for purpose.

“Our Committee very much considers this the first step in ensuring the
long-term sustainability of the aquaculture industry and the wild fisheries

“However, equally important as this legislation is that the two sectors have a
productive co-operative working relationship. We issue a plea to both sides to
try and set aside their differences and work together for the benefit of our
people and our environment.”