Aquaculture is an increasingly important sector to Scotland, contributing up to £1.4 billion per annum to the Scottish economy and 8,000 jobs. It underpins sustainable economic growth that supports employment and economic wellbeing of many fragile rural communities across the country. Scotland is internationally recognised for the high calibre of its aquaculture research which is strengthened through strong collaboration. Improved co-ordination of research activity coupled to effective collaboration between those that support aquaculture-related research will be imperative to ensure that the aquaculture sector continues to thrive.
Through the auspices of my Ministerial Group for Sustainable Aquaculture, I tasked the Science and Research Working Group with producing a comprehensive research strategy to define research requirements to help contribute to the sustainable growth of Scotland's aquaculture industry by 2020 and beyond, with due regard to the marine environment.
I welcome this comprehensive document. In addition to highlighting some of the cogent research required to help underpin the industry's sustainable production targets articulated in Scotland's National Marine Plan consultation, this document also identifies a range of science and research which could contribute to the future sustainability of the aquaculture in Scotland and internationally. The document is primarily designed to inform those public and private bodies that fund aquaculture research and development and is based on a combination of review and analysis of historic research, expert opinion and broad stakeholder consultation.
The sector has great potential. If industry's 2020 sustainable production targets are met - this could mean a turn-over value of £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year and the on-going support of 10,000 jobs. For this to be fully realised, the sector must continue to demonstrate its commitment to improved environmental performance and sustainable growth; aided by a research and academic community that is well positioned to underpin that development. The Scottish Government wants to see aquaculture continue to thrive, growing sustainably, led by world-leading science and research.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change