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May 15th 2024

Two of the country’s leading politicians have met with the Scottish salmon sector to learn more about the UK’s biggest food export.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and the SNP’s employment and investment minister, Tom Arthur, were among those to attend the Aquaculture UK trade show in Aviemore this week.

Mr Sarwar, who addressed the Salmon Scotland AGM, said Scottish salmon is a key part of ‘Brand Scotland’, contributing to inward investment and exports.

He also officially launched the Young Aquaculture Society, a new network for young people to develop connections and discover employment opportunities.

Mr Arthur, who gave the welcome speech at Aquaculture UK, highlighted the "well-paid jobs and careers, including for young people and particularly in our rural and island communities".

Scottish salmon is the UK’s top food export, with international sales of around £600 million, as well as the most popular fish among UK consumers.

The sector directly employs 2,500 people, mainly in remote areas, and supports a further 10,000 jobs through the supply chain – generating more than £760 million for the Scottish economy.

Speaking after his visit to Aquaculture UK, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said:

“The Scottish salmon sector creates thousands of jobs here in Scotland and generates hundreds of millions of pounds for the economy.

“The salmon in our waters are a key part of ‘Brand Scotland’, contributing to inward investment and exports.

“Food and drink should be viewed as an economic asset, and we need to build the right business environment in Scotland to help sectors like this thrive with responsible growth and high animal welfare standards.

“It’s vital that Scotland is seen as open for business, and a Labour government will prioritise economic growth so that we can deliver more high-skilled jobs, enable rural communities to flourish, and invest more in public services.”

Minister for Employment and Investment Tom Arthur said:

“It was a pleasure to be able to open the Aquaculture UK conference. Aquaculture is a major contributor to our economy - providing well-paid jobs and careers, including for young people and particularly in our rural and island communities – and can support us to deliver across the range of the Scottish Government’s key policy priorities.

“We are committed to delivering increased employment and investment in Scotland. Both the Cabinet Secretary and I will continue to work closely with the sector to help maximise its potential for delivering sustainable growth and supporting food security.”

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, added:

“The Scottish salmon sector rightly enjoys cross-party political support in the Scottish parliament, and our members appreciated hearing from Anas and Tom – especially after a few weeks of political turmoil in Holyrood.

“The theme of this year’s AGM was ‘growing salmon, growing Scotland’, because when we grow salmon we are employing thousands of people, contributing hundreds of millions to the Scottish economy, and helping to put Scotland on the world map through our globally-recognised and renowned product – the country’s top food export.

“Scotland’s salmon farmers work all year round to take care of their fish and the beautiful marine environment we work in.

“We are playing our part in making Scotland to thrive and it was fascinating to hear the political parties’ plans to support our sector and grow the economy.”