Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director Jim Gallagher has stepped down from the board of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) to focus on opportunities immediately ahead of the Atlantic salmon producer.

The decision comes ahead of the 15 December deadline given by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority for announcing its phase one decision on Scottish Sea Farms’ acquisition of Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Limited. Separately, the company is also planning around GBP 40 million (USD 53.2 million, EUR 47.5 million) in key strategic investments in 2022.

Gallagher’s involvement in SAIC dates back almost a decade, when he was part of a multi-stakeholder advisory group tasked with scoping out the benefits of introducing an innovation center dedicated to Scottish aquaculture. When Scottish government announced in 2014 that it would dedicate GBP 11.1 million (USD 14.8 million, EUR 13.2 million) in public funding to create the center, Gallagher was appointed as one the founding members of the SAIC board. He went on to serve two terms.

“It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of the SAIC board for so many years. I have believed strongly in the concept since day one – and I haven’t been disappointed. Scottish aquaculture is without doubt better connected, more collaborative and operating increasingly sustainably thanks to the ongoing work of SAIC and its independent scientific panel to bring together the country’s producers and academics to address some of the sector’s most-pressing challenges and opportunities,” Gallagher said. “However, the opportunities immediately ahead of Scottish Sea Farms have the potential to be equally transformative in terms of the company’s own growth and development, and I am keen to give those my undivided focus and attention.” 

SAIC Chair David Gregory said Gallagher has been ambitious on the center’s behalf and it is grateful for his hard work over the last decade.

“He has played a key role in helping us to achieve our mission of increasing the economic impact and reducing the environmental footprint of the sector,” Gregory said.

SAIC CEO Heather Jones said Gallagher has helped shape the center’s priority innovation areas, and has ensured that its research has closely reflected the sector’s needs.

“We also acknowledge with thanks the way that Scottish Sea Farms has engaged with SAIC by co-funding projects, sending staff on SAIC innovation programs, and co-sponsoring the Women in Scottish Aquaculture initiative,” she said.

To date, Scottish Sea Farms has collaborated in nine SAIC co-funded projects, ranging from improved sea lice control to increased understanding of gill health issues, contributing over GBP 2.2 million (USD 2.9 million, EUR 2.6 million) of the combined GBP 6.8 million (USD 9.1 million, EUR 8.1 million) project costs. Gallagher said he is keen to continue his company’s support of SAIC.

“SAIC has an instrumental role to play in helping the sector to grow in the most sustainable way and Scottish Sea Farms fully intends to remain a part of that. From finfish and shellfish to feed and infrastructure, the appetite to accelerate the pace of change is huge, with producers and manufacturers prepared to put their hands in their pockets and academia keen to put their scientific specialisms to practical use,” he said. “However, for the innovation center concept to really deliver on its potential, and for Scotland to fully capitalize, SAIC also needs the ongoing support of the Scottish government: from cutting back on the layers of bureaucracy and decision-making that can hamper innovation, to committing to increased funding over the longer-term. The contribution aquaculture can make to a greener, healthier and more prosperous Scotland is huge, if given the right conditions to deliver.”

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

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