Report: Aquaculture vital to Scottish economy

Published on
September 23, 2020

Scotland’s aquaculture sector contributed approximately GBP 885 million (USD 1.1 billion, EUR 961.3 million) to the nation’s wider economy and supported 11,700 jobs in 2018, according to new research commissioned and published by Marine Scotland.

The report, “Estimation of the Wider Economic Impacts of the Aquaculture Sector in Scotland,” finds that the economic impact of aquaculture is felt well beyond the industry itself. It also determines that it is an important provider of employment in rural Scotland, often paying higher wages than other industries, with salmon production salaries averaging GBP 43,000 (USD 54,696, EUR 46,705).

In regard to the wider value of the sector to the Scottish economy, the report’s other key findings for 2018 include:

  • The aquaculture sector spent GBP 1.4 billion (USD 1.8 billion, EUR 1.5 billion) on supplies and capital investments, with 76 percent of these goods and services purchased from within Scotland. The single largest category of external expenditure was the purchase of feed for finfish production, which accounted for GBP 290 million (USD 369 million, EUR 315.1 million) of spending
  • The majority of this impact came from salmon farming and the processing of aquaculture products. The majority of the gross value added (GVA) of aquaculture was from the salmon production subsector, followed by aquaculture processing. Combined, these accounted for 96 percent of the GVA impact of the aquaculture sector.
  • Staffing costs accounted for 12 percent of the turnover of the aquaculture sector or GBP 185 million (USD 235.4 million, EUR 201 million). Staffing costs have risen in recent years following an increase in the number of jobs supported by the sector and the higher workforce skills

“Aquaculture is a key industry for Scotland and this report reaffirms just how vital it is. Our number one food export, it creates many thousands of highly paid, highly skilled jobs, many in our most remote and fragile communities and contributes directly to the public purse in taxes,” Scotland Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said. “Not least given the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit is having, the Scottish government will continue its efforts to support the sector and its supply chain in Scotland. The sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry is imperative moving forward and is an important element of the Blue Economy model. We will work with industry to drive improvements in research and innovation to deliver further sustainable growth with all the economic benefit that brings.”

Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation Director of Strategic Engagement Hamish Macdonell highlighted that salmon farming not only keeps most remote communities thriving but it has a key role to play, as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Producing a healthy, nutritious, high-protein food with low carbon and low water use, Scotland’s salmon farmers now have the potential to lead the green recovery which will be at the heart of our economic revival over the next few years,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Reimar/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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