Doubling by 2030: Scotland launches GBP 3.6 billion aquaculture plan
Some of Scotland’s leading aquaculture businesses and organizations have come together for the first time to create an ambitious new growth strategy for the sector.
Launched at the Scottish Government Finfish Summit in Fort William, the 2030 Aquaculture Strategy identifies key actions required to double the economic contribution of the industry from its current level of GBP 1.8 billion (USD 2.2 billion, EUR 2 billion) to GBP 3.6 billion (USD 4.4 billion, EUR 4.1 billion) by 2030, while generating more than 9,000 new jobs.
The new plan sets out key recommendations for action by both industry and government covering six themes: industry leadership, regulation, innovation, skills development, investment and infrastructure.
Of 20 specific recommendations, three are identified as critical to the sustainable growth of the industry:
- The creation of a new industry leadership group to drive alignment between industry and government in order to deliver growth;
- Restructuring the role of government agency Marine Scotland to maintain its regulatory role but to remove its industry development role; and
- The introduction of world-leading innovation sites to trial cutting-edge equipment, technology and fish health strategies.
The Working Group that produced the plan comprised representatives of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Scotland Food & Drink, Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers, Highland Council, as well as leading businesses in the sector: Aquascot, Gael Force Group, Ferguson Transport & Shipping and Wester Ross Salmon.
Stewart Graham, group managing director of Gael Force and co-chair of the Working Group, said the new strategy reflected the industry’s ambition to drive sustainable growth and for Scotland to be a world leader in aquaculture.
“We have developed a roadmap to 2030, which can make a transformational impact on Scotland’s economy and our rural communities,” said Graham. “However, the real work begins now and we want to forge a new partnership between the industry, government and its agencies to unlock the full potential of sustainably farming Scotland’s seas. The creation of a new Industry Leadership Group to reflect that collaborative partnership will be a critical first step.
“The strategy must act [as] a catalyst to drive growth throughout the aquaculture supply chain through innovation, skills development and investment, and by ensuring we have proportionate and enabling regulation which balances economic growth and environmental sustainability," he added.
With annual production of approximately 170,000 metric tons (MT) and exports generating GBP 450 million (USD 547.7 million, EUR 501.7 million), farmed salmon is the largest component of Scotland’s aquaculture industry. But while the country is the world’s third largest producer of farmed salmon behind Norway and Chile, the strategy recognized that its global market share had declined by almost half over the past 20 years.
The strategy forecasts an increase in salmon production to around 350,000 MT per annum by 2030, while shellfish production will increase from its current level of 8,000 MT to 21,000 MT. Within the same time frame, it also anticipates that the number of people employed in the aquaculture sector will rise to around 18,000.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Rural Affairs, Fergus Ewing, has welcomed the plan, calling it “a strong signal of business confidence” and saying that it highlighted the significant further potential in the sector.
“Aquaculture is one of our real economic success stories of recent years, with the industry on track to grow to a value of well over GBP 2 billion annually to the Scottish economy by 2020, supporting 10,000 jobs.
“The Scottish Government will now work with the industry to consider their detailed proposals and I have agreed to establish an industry leadership group to help take that forward,” said Ewing.