Study finds Scottish Sea Farms vital to Orkney Islands economy

Published on
October 2, 2018

In the 10 years that Scottish Sea Farms has been raising salmon on the Orkney Islands, off the northeastern coast of Scotland, the company has created dozens of new, high-paying jobs, and spent millions of pounds across local businesses, a new study has found

The research titled “Impact Summary 2018: Measuring 10 years of farming Orkney waters,” compiled by economic and development consultants Imani Development on behalf of Scottish Sea Farms, confirmed that the company had grown its local workforce from nine to 44 full-time jobs; a figure that will increase to 50 when the company’s eighth farm goes live in 2019. 

At the same time, it was offering a higher average salary of GBP 37,215 (USD 48,550, EUR 41,864) than Scotland’s GBP 27,404 (USD 35,750, EUR 30,827) and Orkney’s GBP 26,260 (USD 34,258, EUR 29,538).

Through the company’s policy of buying local, it is also now spending an average of GBP 1.2 million (USD 1.6 million, EUR 1.3 million) annually across 74 local businesses and supporting as many as 250 indirect jobs across the supply chain.

In addition, the study showed that Scottish Sea Farms has invested in local skills and training, with 15 Orkney employees currently enrolled in apprenticeships and 508 training days undertaken by the team in 2017 and 2018.

Speaking at the launch of the study, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the companys was a linchpin of the Orkney Islands economy.

“Salmon farming plays a vital role in many remote rural communities, like the Orkney Islands, where local economies are bolstered by the provision of well-paid, highly-skilled jobs, as well as the creation of a highly valuable and sought-after product. Last year’s export figures showed record numbers of GBP 6 billion [USD 7.8 billion, EUR 6.7 billion] for Scotland’s food and drink sector. A significant proportion of that was thanks to the popularity of our farmed salmon in restaurants and homes across the world.”

Ewing also said that it was “particularly encouraging” to see Scottish Sea Farms investing in the next generation of salmon farmers,  an opinion echoed by Jim Gallagher, the managing director of Scottish Sea Farms.

“To those living on mainland Scotland, 50 jobs might not seem like a huge deal. However, for remote communities such as Eday, Rousay and Sanday that might only have a population of 150, each new job can make the difference between a local staying on the island or leaving, or new people being attracted onto the islands,” Gallagher said.

The study further found that Scottish Sea Farms’ Orkney farms now grow GBP 38.1 million (USD 49.7 million, EUR 42.9 million) worth of salmon that is sold to over 24 countries worldwide and has an estimated value of GBP 26.5 million (USD 34.6 million, EUR 29.8 million) to Scotland’s economy.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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