Scottish Rural Economy Secretary says: “Salmon farming plays a vital role in many remote rural communities”

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New study highlights the importance of salmon farming to rural populations focusing on Orkney, Scotland. 

A study commissioned by the Lerøy and SalMar-owned, Scottish Sea Farms, and undertaken by independent economic and development consultants, Imani Development, says that it provides a new measure of the importance of salmon farming to rural populations according to a press release.

The study looked the value that Scottish Sea Farms has delivered to the remote communities of one specific region in particular – Orkney – during the company’s first 10 years of farming there.

Scottish Sea Farms’ Orkney farms grow GBP 38.1m worth of salmon which sold to over 24 countries world-wide. The estimated value to Scotland’s economy has grown from GBP 471,262 GVA (gross value added) in 2007/8 to GBP 26.5m GVA 2018.

Higher average salary
The company say that they offer a higher average salary (GBP 37.2) than that of Scotland (GBP 27.4) or Orkney (GBP 26.3). Its local workforce has grown from nine to 44 full-time jobs and that figure that will increase to 50 when the company’s eighth farm goes live in 2019. They also say that in the past couple of years, their annual salary bill of GBP 1.6 million has been spent in local shops, businesses and services.

15 Orkney employees are currently enrolled on Modern Apprenticeships delivered via Orkney College UHI.

“Salmon farming plays a vital role in many remote rural communities” says Fergus Ewing, Scottish Rural Economy Secretary.

Speaking at the launch of the study, Impact Summary 2018: Measuring 10 years of farming Orkney waters, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Salmon farming plays a vital role in many remote rural communities, like the Orkney Islands, where local economies are bolstered by the provision of well paid, highly skilled jobs, as well as the creation of a highly valuable and sought-after product. Last year’s export figures showed record numbers of
GBP 6 billion for Scotland’s food and drink sector. A significant proportion of that was thanks to the popularity of our farmed salmon in restaurants and homes across the world.

“During this, the Year of Young People, it’s particularly encouraging to see Scottish Sea Farms investing in the next generation of salmon farmers, as well as leading the way on good practice for the industry.”

The estimated value to Scotland’s economy has grown from GBP 471,262 GVA (gross value added) in 2007/8 to GBP 26.5m GVA 2018.

Remote
Added Scottish Sea Farms’ Managing Director Jim Gallagher: “To those living on mainland Scotland, 50 jobs might not seem like a huge deal. However, for remote communities such as Eday, Rousay and Sanday that might only have a population of 150, each new job can make the difference between a local staying on the island or leaving, or new people being attracted onto the islands.”

Richard Darbyshire, Scottish Sea Farms’ Regional Production Manager for Orkney for the last 10 years. Originally from Bolton, said that a key part of his role is to ensure that the economic and social gains being made aren’t at the expense of the local environment: “We’re farmers first and foremost, and we know that growing healthy, premium quality fish relies on them being reared in healthy habitats. Equally, we live in the same communities as we farm, therefore it’s incredibly important to us on a personal level that we look after our local environments.”

The company added that they were partnering with Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews to explore more ecological options surrounding seal deterrents.