Aquaculture

We promote and work closely with the aquaculture industry

Aquaculture is a major employer and one of Scotland's most important exporters. We manage virtually all the seabed around the UK out to the 12 NM limit, so fish farming operations require a Crown Estate lease. We manage the seabed, but are not a regulator of and have no statutory function in relation to the fish farming industry.

Aquaculture can be broadly split into three categories:

  • Growing finfish in cages or pens
  • Growing shellfish on the seabed, trestles, suspended on ropes or nets
  • Growing seaweeds.

The bulk of marine aquaculture is in Scotland and is mainly salmon and shellfish, chiefly mussel production. Experimental cultivation of farmed salmon began in 1969 and has since developed into a substantial rural industry, with an estimated 8,000 jobs  provided by salmon farming and related support industries, mainly in remote locations where alternative sources of employment are scarce.

Virtually all production takes place in the inshore waters of the west coast and the Western and Northern Isles, where the most favourable conditions for aquaculture are to be found. Alternative species, such as cod and halibut, are being grown in commercial quantities and organic farming is also on the increase.