Output grows

Fish farms boost economy despite Brexit and Covid

Tavish Scott: vital wealth

Scotland’s fish farming’s contribution to the economy grew by 76% in the decade to 2020 as the sector defied the challenges of Brexit and Covid.

A Scottish Government report shows that annual output rose to £362 million in 2020 from £206m in 2011, providing a £3.3 billion boost to the country’s economy.

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

European destinations dominated overseas demand as the sector continued to bounce back from Brexit. 

Tavish Scott, chief executive of trade body Salmon Scotland, said: “Scottish salmon generates vital wealth for the country, and specifically for our islands and Highland coastal communities.

“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.

“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.”

The report comes amid calls for an overhaul of the cluttered regulatory and planning system for salmon farming.

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

According to the Scottish Government findings, aquaculture was the third largest marine contributor in Gross Value Added (GVA), only behind oil and gas, and construction and water transport service.

Salmon accounts for 96% of Scotland’s aquaculture value, while recent HMRC data confirms that Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export.

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