Marine Scotland appoints Resource Futures to quantify use of aquaculture gear in Scotland

19 January 2021

Marine Scotland – the Scottish Government Directorate responsible for managing Scotland’s seas – has appointed independent environmental consultancy, Resource Futures, to conduct research to quantify the use of aquaculture gear in Scotland and to determine how much end-of-life waste is managed.

The project will run until February 2021 and will inform policy and design of better waste management schemes for the aquaculture sector.

Aquaculture is a key contributor to Scotland’s rural economy. According to the Scottish Government’s ‘Supporting aquaculture growth and protecting Scotland’s environment’ statement in March 2017, aquaculture provides employment and investment, particularly in some of the most remote coastal communities. It is estimated to generate economic activity in Scotland worth £1.86 billion every year, supporting 8,300 jobs.

“Scotland’s unique marine environment provides employment and natural resources, tourism and recreation, and supports diverse ecosystems. The Scottish Government is taking proactive measures in reducing marine litter to ensure the continued prosperity of the marine environment. This research is an important step forwards in supporting the seafood industries that rely on this environment to better manage waste, reduce marine litter, and improve sustainable business practices.”

A spokesperson from Marine Scotland

“Aquaculture is a crucial economic player in Scotland, contributing to the rural economy and providing employment for thousands. Despite this, there is little or no data on national aquaculture gear use and waste quantities.

“The Resource Futures team will be speaking with both finfish and shellfish farmers in Scotland to understand their gear use, operations and waste management practices, and the information gathered will feed into national decision-making.”

George Cole, Senior Consultant, Resource Futures

The project is one example of several commitments made by the Scottish Government to support waste management in the marine industry.

Other commitments include a review of the Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland to increase focus on litter removal alongside litter prevention. The Scottish Government is working with the British-Irish Council to consider ways to improve collection and recycling opportunities for end-of-life fishing gear, and is also working to implement the European Union’s ‘Single-Use Plastics Directive’ which includes an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for fishing gear, including aquaculture.

Marine Scotland and Resource Futures will be building on previous work together on marine litter management which includes a report published by the Scottish Government on marine litter and the private sector. Resource Futures co-designed the research with Marine Scotland and developed a new approach to exploring the private sector’s role in tackling marine litter.

Resource Futures’ work in the areas of fishing and aquaculture includes a research study into waste gear generated from fishing and aquaculture sectors in England which is currently being conducted for The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).