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
Following a competitive tendering process, we appointed an expert panel in October 2019 to undertake a root & branch review of our rent and lease terms for aquaculture tenants.
The review will be conducted by a consortium led by Stephen Pollock a director of Avison Young and includes Rafe Staples, a director of Powis Hughes, and John Webster, a director of Webster Rae.
A draft report will be submitted to Crown Estate Scotland by autumn 2020. Following that we will speak with industry and government about the report and next steps.
The reviewed rent and lease terms for all aquaculture business sectors – finfish, shellfish and seaweed – will be implemented on 1 January 2022.
More information can be found here.
Find out more about aquaculture, including how to apply for a lease and information on seaweed harvesting in the sections below.
New Application forms are for sites that do not have a Crown Estate Scotland reference number and Renewal forms are for existing sites that do have a Crown Estate Scotland reference number.