A Tartan Salmon Label Rouge fresh Scottish salmon fillet produced by Bakkafrost Scotland. Salmon farming provided 96% of the £3.3bn of gross value added to the Scottish economy by aquaculture between 2011 and 2020.

Aquaculture was worth £3.3bn to Scottish economy over last decade

Give us the tools and we can do even better, salmon sector tells MSPs


Scotland’s fish farms have been worth £3.3 billion to the country’s economy over the last decade, official figures show.

A Scottish Government report reveals that the economic contribution from aquaculture rose by 76% from £206 million in 2011 to £362 m in 2020.

Farming staff numbers also increased by nearly a third over the same period.

Trade body Salmon Scotland said the research shows that farmed salmon “generates vital wealth for the country”.

According to the Scottish Government findings, aquaculture was the third largest marine contributor in Gross Value Added (GVA), behind the dominant but declining sector of oil and gas, and construction and water transport services.

£151,565 per worker in 2020

Farming accounted for 9.4% of the Scottish marine economy in 2020, compared to 7.3% for sea fishing at £284 m.

Labour productivity (GVA per worker) for fish farming was second only to freight water transport in providing £151,565 per head during the Covid-affected year, although this was lower than in the preceding three years.

Over the decade, farmers grew 1.9 million tonnes of fish worth £9 bn, with production rising on average by 2.9% year-on-year.

The report comes as the Scottish Government continues to work slowly towards overhauling the country’s cluttered regulatory and planning system for salmon farming, which the ruling SNP promised in its last election manifesto but has yet to fully deliver.

Less red tape, more jobs

Salmon Scotland argues that with streamlined reform, further sustainable growth for Scotland’s rural communities is achievable, creating more high-paid, high-skilled local jobs.

Salmon accounts for 96% of Scotland’s aquaculture value, and Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “Farm-raised Scottish salmon is a global success story that everyone in Scotland can take pride in, putting the best-tasting and healthiest protein product on people’s plates and delivering the highest environmental and welfare standards.

“I pay tribute to the farmers and all those involved in the journey from egg to plate.

“All this has been achieved despite the incredible challenges of Covid and Brexit, and with the right government support – streamlined regulation, a more business-friendly approach to immigration in the post-Brexit environment, and action to tackle rural housing shortages – we can deliver further sustainable growth.”

GVA and jobs provided to Scotland by the aquaculture sector, primarily salmon farming, between 2011 and 2020.