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Scotland's Aquaculture

Aquaculture is a growing and increasingly important food production industry to Scotland. It helps to underpin sustainable economic growth in rural and coastal communities particularly in the Highlands and Islands with many depending on the employment and revenue it provides.

Scotland's Aquaculture

Scottish aquaculture is dominated by Atlantic salmon. Scotland is currently the largest producer in the EU and the third largest globally producing 156,025 tonnes in 2018. Scottish farmed salmon is Scotland's top food export – fresh salmon is exported to over 50 countries. Rainbow trout (6,413 tonnes), brown trout (20 tonnes) and halibut are also produced. For details see the Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey 2018 (external link).

Scottish shellfish production was dominated by farmed blue mussel production at 6,874 tonnes in 2018. Pacific oyster ( 4,031,000 shells), native oyster (142,000 shells), scallop ( 31,000 shells) and queen scallop ( 18,000 shells) were also grown in 2018. For details see Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2018 (external link).

A few small-scale seaweed cultivation sites have been established recently in Scotland. The product from these seaweed farms is likely to be used in a number of ways, including food for human consumption, animal feed, nutraceuticals, extra co-digest for aerobic digestion plants, and fertilisers. This sector is expected to grow along with integrated multi-trophic aquaculture.

As part of its policy to increase sustainable economic growth, the Scottish Government has identified the food and drink sector as a key economic area for development. Scotland’s National Marine Plan (NMP) (external link) was adopted on 25 March 2015 and laid before Parliament on 27 March 2015. It sets out a national strategy, ensuring sustainable economic growth of marine industries while taking into account environmental protection, and sets out policies with economic, social and marine ecosystem objectives. It includes a number of objectives and marine planning policies in relation to aquaculture.

The Aquaculture 2030 Strategy identifies key actions required to double the economic contribution of the industry from £1.8 billion in 2016, to £3.6 billion by 2030. It is estimated this will generate over 9,000 new jobs in the sector and establish Scotland as a global leader in the industry. The strategy, developed after industry-wide consultation, sets out key recommendations for action by both the industry itself and government in six priority areas.

As part of the Aquaculture 2030 Strategy the Strategic Farmed Fish Health Framework working group was formed in 2017. The framework has a series of objectives including to support and promote innovation in fish health management, to lead in information sharing and transparency and identify areas where the regulatory framework could be improved.

The Technical Working Group has been tasked with developing a practical framework for assessing the sea lice loading and management requirements taking account of the best available scientific understanding and the precautionary principle. The group comprises experts from the regulators - Marine Scotland, SEPA, SNH and representatives of local authorities.

It is intended that this framework will underpin future planning advice. Through the framework adaptive management based on enhanced monitoring will create an enabling environment for encouraging further aquaculture development where impacts can be mitigated.