A VIRTUAL “Meeting of Minds” event is being planned to both celebrate and explore the huge growth potential of Scotland’s aquaculture sector.

The farming of Atlantic salmon and other species, crustaceans and molluscs, along with the cultivation of aquatic plants and other organisms, contributes around £1.8 billion a year to Scotland’s economy and employs almost 9000 people, many in rural areas.

However, the event organisers – Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) – believe the sector, through sustainable growth, has the potential to double this to £3.6bn with as many as 18,000 supported jobs.

A Meeting of Minds – being held on Zoom on November 26 – will bring together leading businesses and organisations involved in Scottish aquaculture for insights into key areas of development.

It will feature speakers from Norwegian seafood company Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, SAIC and others to share their ideas and inspiration for the future. They will discuss a range of subjects, including sustainability, business development, growth and innovations, along with career paths and skills training.

Frazer Coupland, CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting this event that brings people from across aquaculture together. It’s a hugely important sector for the West Highlands with fantastic potential for the future.”

SAIC’s chief executive, Heather Jones, said: “Aquaculture is an incredibly important part of the economic fabric of Scotland’s rural communities. The sector, directly and indirectly, supports thousands of highly skilled jobs across the country, with more likely to be created as it sustainably grows in the years to come. I look forward to discussing the many opportunities that lie ahead at ‘A Meeting of Minds’, as well as how businesses in Lochaber and beyond can support and help unlock the sector’s ambitions.”

CEO of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Tavish Scott, added: “I am pleased to join this event from Lochaber Chamber and SAIC in highlighting the importance of aquaculture and introducing Scottish Salmon’s new Sustainable Charter, which reflects the importance of our sector being close to local people in the decisions we make that affect them.”