Informing prospects for Scottish aquaculture growth

Helping Crown Estate Scotland understand the opportunities for shellfish and seaweed aquaculture


There is ambition for the Scottish aquaculture industry to grow, given its socio-economic importance, and potential to contribute to national and global food security and the provision of healthy nutritious food. It also plays an important role in providing employment in remote and island communities.


To inform understanding of how industry growth could manifest, Crown Estate Scotland (CES) commissioned ABPmer to assess the prospects and opportunities that may exist for large-scale shellfish and seaweed farming in Scotland, and potential co-location of these sectors.

ABPmer helped identify the prospects and opportunities for key study areas on the east and west coasts by:

  • Mapping potential resource areas based on species resource requirements and physical conditions required for farming
  • Engaging key stakeholders to discuss the potential co-existence of farm installations alongside existing fishing activities


A total of 24,295 km² of potential resource area for mussels between 20-100 m water depth were identified within the areas of interest, and 25,742 km² for kelp.

Suitable areas for both species overlapped considerably. Model outputs enabled identification of potential resource areas which may be suitable for the cultivation of both farmed species, a total of 24,293 km².

Stakeholder discussions identified that:

  • Fishing and farming activities should be kept apart, given concerns over displacement of fishing vessels from important inshore fishing areas
  • The benefit of access channels for fisheries to work within the farms would be limited; this would not be a practical solution for static gear fisheries
  • Intensive farm design would be preferred where feasible, i.e. producing higher volumes from a smaller area, therefore minimising the spatial impact on fisheries

CES will use the outputs of the study to inform their understanding and planning for the aquaculture sector.

Download the full report at the CES website.

ABPmer supports policy-makers, regulators and the fisheries and aquaculture industry on marine environmental policy matters, assessment and management, including interactions between fisheries, marine protected areas (MPAs) and other marine developments.

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