Scotland's Marine Economic Statistics 2021

Statistics on the economic contributions of Scotland’s marine sectors in 2021. Includes a time series of Gross Value Added (GVA), turnover and employment for marine sectors. The supporting documents include: additional tables in an excel file and a pdf version of the publication


Aquaculture is the breeding, growing, and harvesting of plants and animals in water. It can take place in natural water bodies such as ponds, lakes, and the ocean. Tanks, commonly found in fish hatcheries, are also used. Aquaculture production in Scotland includes salmon, trout, mussels, and other shellfish. Scottish Annual Business Statistics is not the sole or main source for the aquaculture data. Instead, data from several surveys are combined for more reliable estimates. See Data and Methodology for more information.

In 2021, aquaculture generated £472 million GVA, 0.31% of the Scottish economy and 10% of the marine economy GVA. Aquaculture employed 2,300 people, 0.09% of Scottish employment and 3% of marine economy employment.

From 2020 to 2021, the GVA from aquaculture increased by 30% from £362 million to £472 million. The longer term trend from 2012 to 2021 increased by 154% from £185 million. From 2012 to 2021, employment increased by 20%.

Figure 4. The aquaculture GVA has fluctuated over the last ten years with a low of £88 milion in 2015 and a high of £594 million in 2019.

Aquaculture GVA by year, 2012 to 2022

Line graph showing aquaculture GVA by year, 2012 to 2022. The aquaculture GVA has fluctuated over the last ten years with a low of £88 milion in 2015 and a high of £594 million in 2019.

In 2021, Atlantic salmon made up 96% of the aquaculture value, similar to previous years. The production of salmon is a process that takes several years. So, some years will have higher costs and lower production than others. In 2015, the GVA dropped (Figure 4) due to lower salmon prices and higher costs because of disease challenges. In 2020, the Covid-19 restrictions impacted on demand for salmon products abroad, especially in China.

Local authority breakdowns of the aquaculture data are not available. But, salmon and mussel production are available by grouped Scottish marine region (Tables 26 and 27). A third of salmon production is in the combined North Coast and West Highlands region. Eighty percent of Scottish mussel production takes place in the Shetland Isles.



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