Aquaculture for all

Salmon Scotland sets sights on leading a £1 billion-a-year industry

Atlantic Salmon Economics +3 more

The Scottish salmon farming sector generated £766 million for the country’s economy in 2021, according to a new study, and could "be worth £1 billion to the Scottish economy in just a few years".

Scottish salmon farming generated £766 million for the Scottish economy in 2021

© Scottish Sea Farms

Salmon Scotland’s report on the farm-raised salmon sector shows that its economic contribution soared by nearly 20 per cent last year when compared to 2019, helping with Scotland’s post-Covid recovery.

The trade body’s chief executive Tavish Scott said the figures confirm that salmon farming is the “backbone of some of Scotland’s most isolated areas” and the ‘blue economy’ will be key to helping communities through the cost-of-living crisis.

The full economic impact has been published amid calls for an overhaul of the cluttered regulatory and planning system for salmon farming.

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

Having provided an additional £100 million to the economy over two challenging years, Scott said the right decision-making from governments could result in Scottish salmon generating as much as £1 billion for the Scottish economy through sustainable growth.

The figures from Salmon Scotland show a direct economic contribution of £303 million in gross value added (GVA) in 2021, up nearly a fifth on pre-pandemic levels of £254 million in 2019.

The sector also indirectly generated a further £397 million in GVA through the supply chain, which supports jobs in every part of Scotland, including the major cities.
There was a further £66 million positive impact in employment costs (up 22.2 per cent from £54 million), benefitting local communities and companies like accommodation providers and retailers all year round, taking the combined total to £766 million.

Salmon farming directly employs more than 2,500 people in fragile, coastal communities in rural Scotland, with a further 10,000 Scottish jobs dependent on the sector.

The report also breaks down the economic contribution the sector makes to Scotland’s five salmon producing regions:

  • £224 million across the northwest Highlands
  • £151 million in the Western Isles
  • £150 million in Argyll and Bute
  • £137 million in Shetland
  • £75 million in Orkney.
A regional breakdown of the economics of Scotland's salmon farming sector

© Salmon Scotland

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

“All this has been achieved by a dedicated workforce despite the incredible challenges of Covid and Brexit, so by tapping into salmon farming’s full potential I am confident the blue economy can deliver even greater benefits for local communities – and could be worth £1 billion to the Scottish economy in just a few years.

“It is imperative that the Scottish Government enables a framework that is both transparent and efficient and the UK Government works to address the post-Brexit challenges at the border to ensure that Scottish salmon can turbocharge the country’s economy.”