Salmon Farms to be hit by Rent Increases

Crown Estate Scotland which awards and manages the leases for the use of the sea bed has completed its review of the Aquaculture industry.

As the body responsible for the leasing of Scotland’s seabed and around half the foreshore, Crown Estate Scotland currently leases around 750 sites for finish and shellfish farming.

Some of the key changes which will come in as a phased approach starting in January 2023, include:

  • For finfish tenants, an increase in fees (as a percentage of turnover) to reflect the consistently strong prices for salmon alongside a revised rent determination process that can better reflect market behaviour;
  • For finfish tenants, reporting required on participation in (collaborative) Management Agreements to mitigate cumulative impacts; 
  • For shellfish tenants, rent remains the same other than an increase in minimum rents; and
  • For all tenants – reporting required on management of plastic used on the leased area.

Salmon Scotland, the trade organisation for the Scottish salmon farming sector has written to Mairi Gougeon, The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands to express its disappointment and concerns about the announcement from Crown Estate Scotland (CES) to implement significant rent increases to the sector.

Salmon Scotland state that the changes by Crown Estate Scotland, which include rises of 95% across the sector as well as removing the Outer Island Discount to protect areas where higher costs of living, labour and logistics are constant, has come in advance of the report by Professor Russel Griggs looking at the regulatory aspect of the industry as a whole.

Crown Estate Scotland state that an Island Communities Impact Assessment (aka Islands’ Proofing) relating to the recommendation to standardise charges across Scotland was carried out.

Alex Adrian, Aquaculture Operations Manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said:

“This review was essential to ensure that we keep up with the pace of an ever-changing sector.

“Aquaculture businesses sustain jobs in some fragile, remote communities and their operations impact the environment. We want to ensure that, in line with legislation, sustainable development is the core principle underpinning seabed leasing.”

Salmon Scotland has asked for a halt in the rise until the the independent review of regulation led by Professor Russel Griggs is published.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s salmon sector, employing 2,500 direct jobs in coastal and island communities is very disappointed by Crown Estate Scotland’s arbitrary and totally unjustified decision to almost double rents on salmon farms.

“CES presumably now see salmon like offshore wind – a cash cow to be exploited.

“Our members have paid more than £20 million into CES over the last five years – a charge which is set to almost double under this new framework.”

Salmon Scotland had raised concerns with the Crown Estate Scotland proposals urging a collective approach which would align with the outcome of the sector review and help have a holistic approach across decision making to consider the wider consequences and implications made by policy change.

Crown Estate Scotland: A Review of Rent and Lease Terms for Marine Aquaculture in Scotland

Crown Estate Scotland: Aquaculture Review – Final Recommendations for Adoption

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