The regional importance of Scotland’s aquaculture industry was emphasised in front of a recent meeting of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee by the head of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC).
The committee had been assembled to help inform the recently published Green Paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, which sets out the UK Government’s ambition to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity throughout the UK. It is by no means a finished framework, however, with input being sought from innovators, investors, employers, employees and the general public alike across every corner of the UK.
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish aquaculture industry, SAIC’s CEO, Heather Jones, reflects: “It was an honour to represent the industry – and, at the same time, Scotland’s wider Innovation Centre programme itself – and help lay the foundations for more balanced growth across the UK.
“Aquaculture is a sector that is standing on its own two feet. It is globally profitable and is already harnessing innovation in robotics and other technologies. The industry is investing tens of millions of capex in the UK economy, and is driving up productivity through management leadership and training.
“Yet within the proposed Industrial Strategy there is little mention of niche sectors or sectors with particular regional importance. That is why I welcomed the aspiration for balanced growth across all four home countries, but also urged the Select Committee to reflect the contribution of industries vital to rural and coastal communities within the advice it gives to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy.”
The CEO consulted a cross-section of Scottish stakeholders prior to attending the Select Committee meeting. These included leading farmed fish and shellfish producers and suppliers; key bodies such as the Scottish Funding Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Universities Scotland; and Scotland’s other seven Innovation Centres.
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Innovation Centres after her appearance, she said: “Many of our own sector strategies in Scotland directly mirror the ideas in the Green Paper. They are formed by Industry Leadership Groups and tackle key barriers to growth – ensuring a strong skills-base; boosting business investment in research and development; and directly supporting deeper industry-academic collaboration.
“The real measure of whether the Industrial Strategy is successful or not will be whether it manages to close the productivity gap between the UK's best performing companies and places, and between its urban powerhouses and rural peripheries.”
The Building our Industrial Strategy Green Paper is available to view here.