Proposals for Aquaculture Innovation Sites outlined.
Issues including digital connectivity, Brexit and the integration of health and social care will be discussed at the Convention of the Highland and Islands (CoHI) in Oban on Monday.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing will also outline plans to begin work to identify Scotland’s first Aquaculture Innovation Sites.
CoHI will be chaired by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney, and will also involve Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell, Islands Minister Humza Yousaf, and Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell.
Speaking ahead of CoHI Mr Ewing said:
“Scottish Ministers are attending the Convention of the Highlands and Islands to listen to our rural communities, exchange ideas and strengthen the relationship between national and local government, stakeholders and local people.
“It is always a pleasure to be in Oban, the gateway to many of our island communities and a key hub for much of our seafood trade on the west coast. It is therefore a fitting location to announce that we are now commencing work towards identifying a range of aquaculture innovation sites around Scotland.
“Fish and shellfish farming contributes some £620 million to the national economy every year. Atlantic salmon production accounts for 90% of the economic impact, supporting over 10,000 jobs. Much of this concentrated in our rural and island economies and it is important that we support the sector to explore new approaches which will allow sustainable and productive growth.
“Today I will be talking to relevant local authorities about our plans, asking for their input and that of the industry into identifying appropriate locations for these innovation sites.
“This will sit alongside with our ongoing commitment to invest in science, research and innovation to enhance the environmental sustainability credentials of the sector and protect Scotland’s fantastic natural resources and habitats.”
Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said:
“We are delighted to host the Convention of the Highland and Islands, and to welcome colleagues to Oban to discuss topics which are of real importance to our rural and island communities.
“Holding the Convention in Oban also gives us a chance to highlight the significant regeneration work that has taken place in the town, and the development of the North Pier Pontoons which are helping to bring more people to the area and contributing to a thriving rural economy. A number of these projects have been delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government and others and we look forward to continuing to building on our existing good relationships.”