INDUSTRY leaders have hailed a new blueprint for salmon farming in Scotland which they claim puts the sector at the “heart of the country’s economic growth plans”.

Tavish Scott, the chief executive of Salmon Scotland, spoke out after the Scottish Government published a new strategy for the fish farming industry.

The vision for sustainable aquaculture sets out the Government’s long-term aspirations for the sector, which also includes shellfish and seaweed farming, up to to 2045.

It comes as figures showed the sector and its supply chain supported about 11,700 jobs, including many in remote and rural areas, and generated £885 million for the economy in 2018.

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The vision from the Scottish Government pledges to streamline the planning and consent system for the industry – but also promises the aquaculture sector will “continually work to minimise negative environmental impacts”.

Its publication fulfils a commitment made in the Bute House Agreement, the powersharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon spoke about the “significant contribution” aquaculture makes to the Scottish economy, saying that farmed salmon was “hugely popular in both domestic and foreign markets”.

She said: “We want the industry to continue to flourish whilst placing a renewed emphasis on environmental protection and community benefits.

“This is the defining principle of the vision for aquaculture and the measures that it contains are designed to achieve this.”

Scott said: “We welcome this vision which puts salmon farming at the heart of the country’s economic growth plans, helping Scotland’s journey to net zero and supporting healthy diets.”

The aquaculture industry has “the potential to both increase food security at home and feed the growing global population,” he added.

Scott concluded: “Scotland is uniquely placed to lead the way in the drive for the sustainable use of the oceans and seas, while conserving our shared environment for future generations.”