Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham met today with European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, to highlight Scotland's successful aquaculture industry.
Commissioner Damanaki views the growth of aquaculture - fish and shellfish farming - as a priority for the EU, a position shared by Ms Cunningham in Scotland.
Scotland is the EU's largest producer of farmed salmon and one of the three top providers of Atlantic salmon in the world, alongside Norway and Chile. Aquaculture is a success story for Scotland, supporting over 6,000 jobs and producing 144,000 tonnes of product in 2008-09, worth an estimated £434 million.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Cunningham said:
"I had a very constructive dialogue with Commissioner Damanaki, who recognised Scotland's key position within the EU as a leader in aquaculture - in terms of the quality of our farmed fish produce, innovative marketing and leading research.
"Scotland has developed a thriving aquaculture industry. Beyond salmon, Scotland's most valuable food export, we are expanding production of mussels, trout and oysters. Scotland is also leading the way in developing other farmed species, such as halibut.
"Farmed fish are an essential way to meet the increasing global demands for fish and seafood. Indeed, in the EU only 40 per cent of demand for seafood can be met from current European production. Therefore, it's more important than ever that European aquaculture is able to grow sustainably, while Scotland is well placed to grow its aquaculture market within the EU.
"In Scotland we have developed a strategic and responsible approach to the management and planning of the fish farming industry. This expertise means we can make an important contribution to developing the industry across the EU and informing future EU policies."
Aquaculture is a growing industry, helping to underpin sustainable economic growth in rural and coastal communities in the Highlands & Islands. In 2009 there were 1,043 fish and shellfish farms in Scotland.
Growth of the aquaculture sector has averaged 4.6 per cent per annum from 2000-2009. In 2009 it included £412m for Atlantic salmon, £6m from rainbow and brown trout, £0.5m from halibut, £7m from mussels, and £1.4m from other shellfish.
The sector, as a whole, provided over 6,000 jobs in 2009. Salmon cultivation provided 963 on-farm jobs, with a further 850 directly related on-shore jobs and an estimated 4,500 jobs in downstream processing. Cultivation of trout and other finfish provided 197 full and part-time jobs with a further 320 jobs in processing; shellfish cultivation provided 345 full and part-time jobs.
Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, met with the Fisheries Commissioner at the European Commission in Brussels. She also held a meeting this morning with Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Action Commissioner, to call for the EU to set more ambitious climate change targets.