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Loch Striven


Fish farming is one of Scotland’s most important industries. More than 8,000 people are employed in shellfish and salmon farming and related industries, mostly in remote locations where other job opportunities are scarce.

Fish farming operations require a Crown Estate Scotland lease. However, we are not a regulator and have no statutory function in relation to the fish farming industry. Planning consent is issued by local authorities. We currently lease around 750 sites to fish farm operators to grow finfish and shellfish. 

We licence seaweed harvesting to help ensure it is sustainably practiced with regard to possible impacts of harvesting on a range of factors (the stock itself, habitat and feed provision, coastal processes, etc). Proposals are only licenced if SNH confirm their satisfaction with its sustainability.

Supporting the industry

We invest in research and other activities to help fish farming secure a sustainable future.

  • We see commercial potential in seaweed farming and are exploring this in line with the Scottish Government's draft National Marine Plan
  • We have worked with government to create a detailed and up-to-date web-based overview of the Scottish industry
  • We continue to support the Scottish aquaculture research 
  • In discussion with the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers, we recently commissioned an £18,000 investigation into a model to evaluate critical mass for economically viable shellfish production at loch/area-wide level

Rents and charges

Aquaculture charges depend on net gutted weight for finfish (e.g. currently we charge £27.50 per tonne for salmon) and species, length of rope and other types of equipment for shellfish (e.g. currently for mussels we charge 20 pence per metre with a minimum charge of £135pa).

Both finfish and shellfish rents are reviewed every five years by an independent expert and we commit to accept the recommendations of each review. The most recent finfish review is below, and the shellfish one is here.

Outer Isles farms (Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland) receive a ten per cent reduction to reflect their higher costs.

Applying for a lease

All marine fish farms require planning permission from the relevant local authority. Where the foreshore / seabed is Crown owned, a lease from us is also required.

An application for a fish farming lease can be made at any time. If planning permission has not yet been obtained, then a lease-option will be offered.

Fish farming operations in marine waters may also require a marine licence from Marine Scotland and authorisation under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

We encourage applicants for a lease or lease option to contact us prior to applying to check on the availability of the location. We also recommend that applicants discuss their proposals with statutory authorities and others who are likely to be involved in or affected by the development.

To apply for a Crown Estate Scotland lease to farm finfish or shellfish:

Renunciation and assignation of lease

Tenants wishing to renounce a lease must complete a renunciation form and submit it to us. If a tenant wishes to transfer the tenancy to another party, as part of the sale of the business for example, this can be achieved through assignation of the lease.

Decommissioning and removal of deployed equipment

At the end of the lease, all equipment associated with the fish farm including moorings must be completely removed. We can request a seabed survey to confirm that removals have taken place.

Seaweed harvesting

Our policy on seaweed harvesting is to licence it chiefly to ensure sustainable practice where it is proposed on Crown foreshore/seabed in Scotland.

Hand harvesting of seaweed for any form of monetary or other reward from Crown foreshore or seabed in Scotland requires a licence from Crown Estate Scotland. The granting of the licence is dependent upon relevant natural heritage authority (Scottish Natural Heritage) confirmation that the harvesting proposal does not present any evident unacceptable environmental risks or impacts.

We require the following information in order to proceed with a proposal:

  2. 1. An indication of the stretch(es) of coastline in question. We will need some detail on the exact locations as co-ordinates or plans of the stretches of foreshore/seabed - to establish whether it is Crown land or not. We will also need to know whether you propose to harvest on foreshore only (i.e., between marks of Mean Low Water and Mean High Water Spring tides) or whether on seabed below the Mean Low Water Spring tide mark as well

2. An indication of the species of interest

3. An indication of the annual wet weight volume of seaweed sought. We appreciate that this may not be available in any detail but to know whether it will amount to 10's or 100's of kgs or tonnes will help to determine the nature of licence that may be required

Harvest Options: Please note that larger scale proposals (> circa 90 – 100 tonnes wet weight per annum) for foreshore and near-shore harvesting of seaweed that is not subject to statutory licensing will be subject to a Harvest Licence Options process. This offers conditional interest at identified locations that can be applied for during two designated ‘applications windows’ per year. For 2018 this will be the last two weeks of September and thereafter the 1st fortnights in March and September each year.

This process aims to address competing harvest interest for larger scale activities on Crown foreshore in Scotland and will constitute the only means whereby licences for volumes qualifying for this Options process can be secured.

4. All applications must include documented confirmation from relevant environmental authority stating their satisfaction that the proposed activity is sustainable and will not result in any significant adverse environmental effects. 

All proposals must be submitted to who will deal with it accordingly.

Collection for personal use does not require a licence and we are content for such collection to proceed for small quantities appropriate to personal use. We recommend anyone doing so takes account of environmental sensitivity of collecting anything from the wild. 

Please note that it is Crown Estate Scotland policy not to licence harvesting of natural seaweeds in designated conservation areas unless there is clear confirmation of no potential risk posed to qualifying features.


Aquaculture Reviews, Lease Applications and Guidance