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 162,817 tonnes in 2016. Scottish farmed salmon is Scotland's top food export  – fresh salmon is exported to over 50 countries. Rainbow trout (8,096 tonnes), brown trout (41 tonnes) and halibut (67 tonnes) are also produced. For details see the Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey 2016 (external link).

Scottish shellfish production was dominated by farmed blue mussel production at 8,232 tonnes in 2017. Pacific oyster (5,034,000 shells), native oyster (200,000 shells), scallop (47,000 shells) and queen scallop (273,000 shells) were also grown in 2017. For details see Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2017 (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 specific industry targets - to grow marine finfish sustainably to 210,000 T (whole, wet fish) and shellfish sustainably to 13,000 T.

  • to increase marine finish production sustainably to 210,000 tonnes (165,256 tonnes in 2013) and;
  • to increase shellfish production to 13,000 tonnes (6,935 tonnes in 2013).

A Fresh Start - the renewed Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture (external link) was launched in 2009. The Ministerial Group for Sustainable Aquaculture (MGSA) (external link) has been established to enable industry to achieve these sustainable growth targets. MGSA is chaired by the Minister for Environment and supported by more focussed and time-limited project-based working groups: Capacity; Interactions; Containment; Science & Research; Shellfish; Farmed Fish Health & Welfare; and Wellboats.