A lack of working capital in the aquaculture industry is stifling the development of marine whitefish such as cod, halibut and haddock, said Alastair Barge, chairman of the British Marine Finfish Association.

Barge said the poor market price for salmon meant many aquaculture companies did not have the financial resources to fund diversification.

Jim Mather MSP has pledged to write to minister Ross Finnie to ask if there are ways in which the government might assist. While production of halibut for
2003 will be in the region of 230 tonnes, this will rise to 400 to 500 tonnes by 2006. Current UK cod production will be about 90 tonnes this year, but the BMFA believes that in 10 years time total UK farmed whitefish production (mainly cod, haddock and halibut) will be worth £100m to the Scottish economy, employing 600 people.