From its coastal crofting roots, aquaculture has grown to become a vital part of Scotland's economy and the benefits are most keenly felt in our rural, coastal and island communities. Scotland's entire aquaculture supply chain, which includes Atlantic salmon, trout and shellfish production, contributes £620 million every year in Gross Value Added ( GVA) to the Scottish economy, supports over 12,000 full time jobs and makes significant social contributions to remote and rural areas by generating highly skilled employment opportunities. The farmed salmon industry makes up over 90% of all Scotland's aquaculture production by value, with trout production and cleaner fish production becoming increasingly important both economically and strategically.
HMRC export statistics show that in 2017, 92,000 tonnes of fresh Atlantic salmon worth £600m was exported from the UK, representing a 35 per cent increase in value and 26 per cent increase in volume from 2016. Those 2017 statistics also indicate that the EU remains the biggest single regional market, importing £282m or 47 per cent of the UK's salmon exports by value in 2017. And that the EU's share of the UK's salmon exports is increasing – in 2014, 34 per cent of UK salmon exports by value went to the EU.
The Scottish Government reaffirmed its approach to sustainable growth in aquaculture in 2017 in a joint Ministerial Statement by the Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham. The salmon and trout farming industry is committed to sustainable growth with due regard to the environment on which they and others depend. The health and welfare of farmed fish throughout their lifecycle is a core commercial priority for fish farmers. The industry understands that it makes business sense to produce healthy fish and that doing so depends on the marine and coastal environment. Producers recognise that sustainable growth can only come as a consequence of continuous improvement in biological performance. They also understand their responsibilities to uphold the highest standards of welfare in how they care for their fish. Aquaculture is important economically, but must be delivered and developed sustainably, with appropriate regulatory frameworks which minimise and address environmental impacts.
In recent years changing coastal environmental conditions have contributed to the industry's challenges and it recognises the need for continuous improvement in its practices, building on a strong tradition of innovation. This framework document therefore sets out an ambitious and measurable road map for improving farmed salmonid survival, including a programme for developing industry-leading standards for disclosure of on-farm health information. The aim is to further underpin the sustainability of the aquaculture industry and safeguard its vital role in Scotland's rural economy.