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Aquaculture Stands Strong

Economics +1 more

SCOTLAND, UK - A growing workforce and increased production per head have been highlighted in the 2008 Scottish Fish Farm Annual Production Survey of Scotland's fish farms.

The promising results come as Marine Harvest announce further employment in the Western Isles, confirming aquaculture as one of Scotland's economic success stories.

Marine Harvest will work with Job Centre Plus to fund and deliver pre-employment fish farm training to fill over 40 vacancies in the Western Isles once sites have been confirmed. Under the government led initiative, Local Employment Partnership, Job Centre Plus will help unemployed residents within the local community gain the necessary skills to apply for these jobs.

Aquaculture continues to demonstrate a firm foundation for growth and development despite the economic backdrop. Species such as Atlantic salmon production for 2009 is projected to increase by over 3.4 per cent, with rainbow trout production set to increase in future years.

The aquaculture sector has also been instrumental in establishing a task force planning group to set the trend for a number of other sectors, securing opportunities for production growth, an expansion of new jobs and attracting more foreign investment into Scotland's economy.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "This is further proof that Scotland's aquaculture is in prime position to develop and grow even further. I welcome the partnership between Marine Harvest and Job Centre Plus and would urge more companies to consider this approach to keep local jobs local.

"I'm encouraged to see the fish farm production survey showing increased employment and diversification.

"While we can be satisfied in the strong, robust figures of 2008, we must not become complacent in safeguarding this valuable industry. Like all sectors, difficult times lie ahead, but through initiatives such as our European Fisheries Fund and Ministerial Group on Aquaculture, I can confidently say that this government is dedicated to working with the industry to ensure its mounting success."

The total level of European Fisheries Fund (EFF) investment for 2009 is over £25 million. The money is used to strengthen Scotland's processing sector, secure jobs in remote areas, trial new technologies, improve the efficiency of the fishing industry, and enhance the nation's reputation as a land of food and drink. Young skippers and small firms affected by the Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) outbreak earlier this year are among the latest successful applicants.

The EFF programme runs between 2007 and 2013, and is targeted to assist with capital investment in the aquaculture, fishing and fish processing industries. The programme can also support strategic trade initiatives, fisheries dependent communities, and Scottish Government and European Community policy initiatives for the sustainable development of fisheries. The Scottish Government has been allocated approximately €55m over the lifetime of the programme (equating to approximately £50m, at current exchange rates).