Salmon farming and processing was worth nearly £885 million to the Scottish economy in 2018, a report has found.
The Marine Scotland report said the aquaculture sector supported 11,700 jobs, with wages often higher than in other industries.
Salmon production made up £585 million of the sector’s gross value added, while aquaculture processing made up £269 million.
Shellfish and other finfish production made up a further £31 million.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Aquaculture is a key industry for Scotland and this report reaffirms just how vital it is.
“Our number one food export, it creates many thousands of highly paid, highly skilled jobs, many in our most remote and fragile communities and contributes directly to the public purse in taxes.
“Not least given the significant impact the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit is having, the Scottish Government will continue its efforts to support the sector and its supply chain in Scotland.
“The sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry is imperative moving forward and is an important element of the blue economy model.”
Hamish Macdonell, director of strategic engagement at the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said: “Salmon farming not only keeps most remote communities thriving but it has a key role to play as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Producing a healthy, nutritious, high-protein food with low carbon and low water use, Scotland’s salmon farmers now have the potential to lead the green recovery which will be at the heart of our economic revival over the next few years.”
Scottish Green MSP John Finnie called for action to tackle pollution caused by fish farming, saying: “If aquaculture is to play a long-term role in supporting jobs in fragile and remote communities it must become sustainable.
“The Rural Economy Secretary talks of ‘sustainable growth’ but he has completely failed to tackle the environmental harm caused by this polluting industry, which is presently enjoying a reduced inspection regime.”
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