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Marine / Local politicians slam Greens’ salmon farming claims

Salmon farm off Yell. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND’s parliamentary representatives have come out strongly in support of the salmon farming industry after the Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater advocated curtailing the industry despite never having been to a farm and not knowing where salmon farms were located.

Scottish Greens co-convener Lorna Slater during a visit to Shetland two years ago. Photo: Shetland News

Earlier this week Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) described as “catastrophic” the potential impact on rural Scotland should the Greens enter into a more formal co-operation with the SNP at Holyrood.

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland BBC radio programme Slater said “I don’t actually know where the fish farms are” but that she continued to support the party’s manifesto commitments to phase out open-pen farms.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael: “The Scottish Greens apparently want to close down all of Scotland’s salmon farms despite not knowing where any of them are. On this basis will Ms Slater be going after the wicked people of Atlantis next?

“The Greens’ geographical knowledge may be imaginary but the cost of these proposals in isles jobs would be very real.

“The ghost of Thatcher would no doubt be looking on approvingly at this willingness to tear up entire industries without having any first-hand knowledge of them.

Alistair Carmichael
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

“Before the SNP let them run economic policy they should at least make sure they can read a map!”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart added: “Salmon farming is a major part of Shetland’s economy. There are over 400 direct jobs here producing 21 per cent of Scottish farmed salmon, and contributing to an estimated worth of £1.8bn annually in Scotland.

“Where there are issues to be tackled you do so by working with the sector, not talking about closing farms and scrapping jobs.”

Slater is also reported saying: “I don’t want workers to worry. We want to put in place jobs guarantees, just transition plans, build up sustainable environmentally friendly industries, so that we know that people will not lose their livelihoods and their incomes.

“Business owners need to be realistic; they cannot continue to run businesses that damage the planet, that put in danger wildlife and habitats. We have to have a sustainable system.”

The Greens were to contacted by Shetland News to discuss salmon farming in more detail but we have not heard back.