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Aquaculture Value Tops 400 Million

by Ellen Hardy
30 November 2007, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - The Scottish aquaculture industry was valued in excess of 400million in 2006, according to a new, virtual resource set up to provide authoritative information about the industry.

Launched on 28th November in Glasgow, the Aquaculture Information Bureau (AIB) has been set up to achieve widespread recognition and understanding of the contribution that the sector makes to the economy, rural sustainability and the national diet.

One of the foremost food producing sectors in rural Scotland, the value of aquaculture is second only to beef at £467m, and ahead of fish catches at £370m, the sheep sector at £151m and the pig industry at £57m.

The new information source, www.aquaculture.org.uk, received support for the greater openness being shown by the industry from broadcaster Sally Magnusson. Calling aquaculture’s development in Scotland a “fascinating story”, Ms Magnusson admitted she didn’t know that it made such a major contribution to the rural economy.

Sid Patten, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said the AIB would ensure that aquaculture’s contribution to Scotland, the UK and Europe in terms of size, strength and dynamism was properly understood by a wide variety of audiences.

“Aquaculture has a very good story to tell,” said Patten. “Aquaculture products represent 50% by value of all Scottish food exports, the UK is the largest producer in the European Union accounting for 30% of output and aquaculture is recognised by leading authorities as being the only way to meet the surging demand for seafood.

“Scotland has and needs a thriving aquaculture industry. In many remote, rural areas the presence of aquaculture supports the necessary infrastructure of community life. The launch of the AIB will help to take that story to a wider audience,” he added.

Roger Thwaites, oyster farmer in Argyll, ex-salmon farmer and member of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers, said: “Our sector has fantastic potential. It has profitable operations at the small, crofting level and larger scale units. Both formations build economic foundations for remote, coastal communities. We hope the AIB will help to tell our story and assist our ambitions to grow this environmentally benign industry from around 5,000 tonnes today to 10,000 tonnes by 2010, and 20,000 tonnes by 2020.”

David Sandison, General Manager of Shetland Aquaculture, said: “The aquaculture industry is still in its infancy and it has vast potential for sustainable growth. In the UK we must ensure that all ‘stakeholders’, whether customers, suppliers, regulators, government or consumers, have access to all types of information about the industry and its current and future plans. This needs to be accessible regardless of species, sector or location.

“As Shetland is currently the UK hub for the advancement of a truly diverse aquaculture sector, we are keen to use the AIB to ensure the world gets to know more about our industry,” he added.

Craig Burton, Regional Manager of The Seafish Industry Authority, added: “The processing and retail sectors acknowledge that aquaculture is an increasingly important part of the supply base. As we in Scotland produce some of the best products in the world, and the consumer demands and deserves honest, well-informed information, the AIB is a very creative way to place accurate information into the public domain.”

Ellen Hardy