Guest blog: Salmon farming in Scotland thesis

Freija Vermeer is an MSc student in Marine Systems and Policies at Edinburgh University, and received a SAIC scholarship to fund her studies. Now, she is working on her thesis, and looking for people to help her map the efforts of the industry in combining the development of Atlantic salmon farming around Scotland with environmental sustainability.

Aquaculture is a relatively new subject to me, that I only got to know more extensively over the past year. With a BSc in Governance, Economics and Development from Leiden University College, my studies focused on the role of governance and policy in human development. The study was interdisciplinary, and emphasised that human induced climate change and environmental degradation are the biggest challenge to human security. This led to my interest in the question of how human security can go hand in hand with environmental sustainability. During an internship at the Wildlife Justice Commission, an NGO working against wildlife trafficking, I got involved in a project on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. At that time, I became more aware of the environmental challenges faced by our oceans and the consequences this could have for human security. The depletion of fish was of particular concern of the project, where aquaculture was posed as a solution to the problem. To gain more insight into marine environments and rising environmental concerns, I landed on the MSc Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh that I started last September. 

I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship from SAIC to fund my studies, which has resulted in a thesis project focused on salmon farming around Scotland. Since I got involved with SAIC, I wanted to focus my thesis on examining the practices currently in place around environmental sustainability, and going forward what measures could be adopted.  With my thesis, I am delving into this subject by focusing on the inclusion of environmental and climate change into the current policy and regulatory frameworks surrounding salmon farming. I would like to evaluate the inclusion of environmental (e.g. chemical and medicine use, eutrophication, fish escapes, organic waste, etc.) and climate change factors in current legislation by using the four FAO principles on aquaculture governance: accountability, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and predictability. Even though the industry is already well regulated, identifying potential gaps is important to ensure good management in the future. With my thesis, I hope to provide an evaluation of the current governance structure of salmon farming, and how the industry can adapt to climate change, going forward.

To ensure a well-rounded and comprehensive view on salmon farming around Scotland, I would like to include the perspectives of different fields (government bodies, working groups, committees, industry and NGOs) to ensure stakeholder representation. If my thesis sounds of interest to you, and you would like to be included in my research, please email or find me on LinkedIn.