MGSA Science & Research Working Group - Aquaculture Science & Research Strategy

MGSA S&RWG was tasked to produce a comprehensive research strategy prioritised on respective contribution to informing the sustainable growth of the Scottish aquaculture industry and potential impacts of the 2020 sustainable production targets as detailed

08 Markets, Economics & Social Science

Aquaculture is a significant contributor to economic activity in Scotland and provides particular benefits in fragile economic areas, both in remote coastal locations but also, through processing and other support activities, in the Central Belt and elsewhere. In addition, the aquaculture sector generates substantial human and social capital in the communities within which it operates.

Newly completed research for Marine Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise shows that 11 the aquaculture industry contributes:

  • A direct production income of £550m, with a GVA of £165.8m, and over 2,800 jobs, though it's wealth generation goes far beyond this value
  • It provides over 4,800 jobs in total, £800m in revenue and £293m across the supply chain in Scotland alone
  • In total, a minimum of £1.5bn in turnover across the UK, including Grimsby processing and national retailing

Although aquaculture provides sustainable employment and income generation in remote areas that may otherwise lack alternative economic options, it also has a substantial impact on jobs in other parts of Scotland such as the Central Belt and this 'other half' remains largely unrecognised.

In terms of the benefits of aquaculture to Scottish communities, human capital in terms of participation in employment, as well as the skills and experience which provide 'employment security' was found to be most important, with financial benefit in terms of income to local ancillary businesses (particularly transport and tourism) the second most important. Negative opinions were generally low and most often related to environmental impact.

The sector growth targets must be achieved in a way that is profitable for the sector and sustainable for affected communities. This is possible and there is a broad consensus that growth of the aquaculture sector can bring benefits to the businesses involved, to communities and to Scotland as a whole. It is estimated that should the industry achieve the 2020 targets the industry could directly be worth over £1.2 billion and provide 7,000 jobs for Scotland.

Particular areas of research identified within the social sciences to support sustainable growth include:

  • Skills - availability of skilled work force, provision of training and future skills needs
  • Competitiveness - opportunities to add value and, in particular, reduce costs
  • Markets - understanding consumer preferences; balancing domestic and export markets
  • Governance - maintaining and enhancing community engagement to support appropriate development
  • Technologies - cost effectiveness assessment of new technologies e.g. in offshore production
  • Finance - drivers and barriers of investment, particularly for small firms



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