A new Scottish Government report concludes that the aquaculture sector contributes to the long-term viability of many communities.
Commissioned by Marine Scotland, the report found that Scottish salmon farming provides year-round, well-paid jobs and supports economic growth in rural, coastal and island areas.
It said UK aquaculture – the majority of which is located in Scotland and involves salmon farming - also supports a wider and more geographically dispersed supply chain including processing, distribution, feed supply and export.
Following the study's publication Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said: “This report highlights once again just how significant aquaculture is to Scotland’s rural economy and the viability of our island and coastal communities.
“The level of annual earnings for employees in these remote and island locations is significant and often not readily available from other jobs in these locations.
“Having a skilled and flexible workforce will be a key factor in the future success of Scottish aquaculture. That’s why we continue to work with our partners to promote skills development and to encourage new entrants to consider this crucial sector as a viable career path.
“Given the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the Scottish Government will continue to work to preserve the future of Scotland’s aquaculture sector and the social fabric of our remote and rural communities.”
The Supporting the Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability of the UK’s Marine Sectors report - by economic and social research group ekosgen - also highlights key challenges.
These include employers recruiting and retaining the skills they need in areas such as engineering, science, fish husbandry, fish health, feeding and biology.
Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said:
“Salmon farming is crucial to the viability of some of our most remote communities as this report makes clear.
“If we want these communities to continue to thrive then we need to ensure conditions are as favourable as possible which means having the right skills, infrastructure and regulatory regime.”