Figures published by HMRC last month confirmed that Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest fresh food export with international sales of Scottish salmon valued at £280million in the first half of 2022, despite the challenges of Brexit, Covid-19 and a regulatory framework in need of reform.

Reporting the good news, trade body Salmon Scotland highlighted the significant economic benefits delivered by the farmed salmon industry in rural and coastal communities, through the creation and support of highly skilled jobs. According to Salmon Scotland, the farm-raised salmon sector delivers 2,500 direct jobs in Scotland, supporting more than 3,600 domestic suppliers, and a total of more than 12,000 jobs dependent on the sector.

This theme was echoed by the Scottish Government's Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon at the recent launch of the new advisory Scottish Aquaculture Council which is tasked with assisting Ministers achieve their objectives of regulatory reform for the industry, following on from the recommendations of Professor Griggs' report published earlier this year.

The Griggs' report, which recommended moving to a consenting system for marine fish farming based around a single consenting document, also highlighted the need for a long term strategic policy framework, to guide consenting decisions on new sites and facilitate a review of existing ones. Scottish Government have committed to publishing that framework (covering finfish, shellfish and seaweed aquaculture) in the current parliamentary term, with a new Ministerial Aquaculture Strategy Forum promised to help deliver its aspirations for the sector.

The independent Scottish Science Advisory Council will also have a key role. This is particularly welcome for a sector where consenting decisions have too often been based on ill-founded concerns and local politics.

Stakeholders on all sides of the aquaculture debate recognise the need for change. But if Scotland is to continue to see the type of socio economic benefits which flow from investment in this key sector, we need the right type of change and soon.


Nicola Grant

Legal Director