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 Table Markets, Economics & Social Science

General Topic
Priority Ranking (1-7)


Relevance to 2020 target

Potential deficiencies in Infrastructure/Resource Requirements

1) Human Capital

Recruitment - assessment of recruitment to the industry, exploring barriers and drivers to attracting and retaining talent, identify requirements and possible bottlenecks as sector develops, challenges of recruitment and retention in rural areas.

Skills - a stocktake or gap analysis to establish the current level of skills provision and the likely need in the future; availability of training and skills development in training institutes and within the industry itself; identification of best practice within Scotland and elsewhere.

Develop supply-side capacity to enable expansion and productivity improvements and uptake of new technologies.

Requires industry cooperation and involvement.

2) Consumers and new markets

Multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary research to explore opportunities for new products and species ( e.g. seaweeds for non-food uses) - understanding of production, processing, marketing, consumer preferences etc..

Explore opportunities for creation/development of local/ UK markets; Explore linkages with other sectors e.g. tourism; explore, for example through future scenario workshops, opportunities to develop products and to engage creatively with consumers ( e.g. Catch a Piece of Maine); Examine risks and opportunities from demographic change and its associated impact on preferences and demand.

Develop a better understanding of how consumer preferences develop and opportunities for industry to be proactive influencing perceptions and preferences; how sensitive are preferences to positive messages ( e.g. celebrity chefs, health benefits) and negative messages ( e.g. environmental concerns) to enable effective and proportionate responses. This links to some of the research proposed by the Nutrition Task Group e.g. concerning human health benefits.

Make use of existing research on markets and demand including from other comparator sectors; review existing literature, research and analysis to develop its real-world application.

Review of export opportunities - exploration of current and potential export markets available to Scottish and competitor firms to identify high-value markets with growth opportunities; identification of best-value marketing and product differentiation strategies to secure growth opportunities in high-value export markets; identify barriers and constraints for example in distribution networks.

Development of new and existing markets to ensure continued and growing profitability of sector.

Likely to require cooperation and participation of players within the downstream value chain.

3) Impact Assessment and Appraisal

Improve our ability to appraise and balance economic, social and environmental impacts. In particular to develop approaches to better understand non-market impacts e.g. on ecosystem services - either by improved monetary valuation of e.g. environmental and social impacts or through use of alternative decision-making tools such as multi-criteria analysis, Bayesian Belief Networks etc. - this will enable more credible and consistent decisions concerning marine planning, choice of production technologies and can also contribute to e.g. positive marketing, community engagement etc.; ensure policies consider potential impacts of management measures on aquaculture from a vertical (local, national, regional and international) and horizontal (between sectors e.g. aquaculture and fisheries) perspective.

Life cycle analysis of aquaculture production - to inform marine planning, choice of production technologies and can also contribute to e.g. positive marketing, community engagement etc..

Better decisions around planning, policy and aquaculture development will facilitate community acceptance of aquaculture growth and ensure best use of marine environment.

Well-recognised difficulties in developing monetary values for ecosystem services and in accounting for social and cultural values within standard assessment frameworks.

4) Governance

Identify the factors within rural/coastal communities that can contribute to the success or failure of aquaculture developments e.g. demographics, governance arrangements, skills, training - links to research proposed by Capacity Task Group.

Identify processes for community engagement to ensure developments appropriate and supported - links to research proposed by Capacity Task Group.

Ensure community support for and benefits from growth of aquaculture sector.

No obvious constraints.

5) Sector Competitiveness

Identify the key drivers of and barriers, throughout the product chain, to the competitiveness of the aquaculture sector in particular in relation to equivalent products in international markets, but also relative to alternative protein sources within the UK; production costs, feed costs, regulatory costs, supply chains, marketing.

Successful and sustained development of the sector relies on its ability to compete at a national and international level while maintaining profitability and environmental and social integrity.

Requires industry cooperation and involvement.

6) Finance and Investment

Identify the key incentives for and barriers to investment in Scottish aquaculture and identify actions for government and industry; including competitiveness, skills, planning and governance, community engagement.

Investigate demand and opportunities for innovative financing of aquaculture investments for example through community/private sector partnerships.

Access to finance is a key issue for growth of small scale aquaculture developments, in particular in shellfish and non-salmon finfish production.

Requires industry cooperation and involvement.

7) Production Techniques and Technologies

Impact assessment ( e.g. cost effectiveness/ value for money assessment) of innovative production technologies - specifics will depend on activities elsewhere but could include measures to manage the ecological footprint of aquaculture, development of offshore technologies etc.. Much of the research proposed by the Technology and Engineering Task Group could usefully include a cost effectiveness/value for money component.

Need to demonstrate that development of aquaculture production and development of new products and technologies meet basic requirements for sustainability.

Relies on technical assessment of technological developments to feed into financial analysis.

Requires industry cooperation and involvement.



Back to top