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Report shows salmon farming’s ‘vital’ contribution to Scotland

Scottish salmon creates thousands of highly paid, highly skilled jobs and is the UK's top food export
Scottish salmon creates thousands of highly paid, highly skilled jobs and is the UK's top food export

The value of Scotland’s aquaculture sector extends widely beyond the industry, boosting the economy and providing high paid rural jobs, according to a report published today.

The sector contributed approximately £885 million to the Scottish economy and supported 11,700 jobs in 2018, a Marine Scotland report found.

And wages are often higher than in other industries, with salmon production salaries averaging £43,000.

The study - Estimation of the Wider Economic Impacts of the Aquaculture Sector in Scotland – also noted that Scottish salmon represents the UK’s largest food export by value. 

Minister Fergus Ewing
Minister Fergus Ewing

Key findings include:

  • Aquaculture contributed £94.1 million in taxes paid to local, Scottish and UK governments in 2018;
  • The aquaculture sector spent £1.4 billion on supplies and capital investments in 2018, with the majority (76%) of these goods and services purchased from within Scotland;
  • The majority of this impact came from salmon farming and the processing of aquaculture products;
  • In 2018 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% of the GVA impact of the aquaculture sector;
  • Staffing costs accounted for 12% of the turnover of the aquaculture sector - £185 million in 2018. Staffing costs have risen in recent years following an increase in the number of jobs supported by the sector and the higher workforce skills.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: ‘Aquaculture is a key industry for Scotland and this report reaffirms just how vital it is.

Highly skilled

‘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.

‘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.’

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation’s director of strategic engagement, Hamish Macdonell, said: ‘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.’

Read the full report here.