Aquaculture | Data and Insight | Seafish

Aquaculture data and insight

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food supply sector globally and is important to the UK seafood industry. We collate research on the UK industry.

Size and performance of sector

Aquaculture in the UK is a growing industry. Although just 8% of companies produce 92% of the value. Salmon produced in Scotland dominates. The volume of salmon production in the UK grew 18% between 2016 and 2020.

Value and volume of farmed fish and shellfish

In 2021, the UK farmed 217,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish. It was worth £1 billion although this is a value decrease of 13% compared to 2020. 

The top 5 species by value were: 

  1. Atlantic salmon (£1 billion) 
  2. Rainbow trout (£51 million) 
  3. Mussels (£12 million) 
  4. Oysters (£10 million) 
  5. Carp (£6 million) 

The top 5 species by volume were: 

  1. Atlantic salmon (205,400 tonnes) 
  2. Rainbow trout (13,500 tonnes) 
  3. Mussels (12,200 tonnes) 
  4. Oysters (3,000 tonnes) 
  5. Other salmonoids (600 tonnes) 

Importance of UK aquaculture

Infographic showing the importance of UK aquaculture via income, net profit, jobs and number of companies in the UK

The latest financial data we have for the UK aquaculture industry is from 2018. In that year:

  • Total income was £972 million
  • Net profit was £99 million
  • There were 464 companies in the UK
  • There were 2,833 full time equivalent jobs

Growth of global aquaculture

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food supply sector in the world, and it helps with global, regional and local food security. In the period 1990–2020, total world aquaculture expanded by over 600% in annual output, with an average growth rate of 6.7%.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in 2020 the world’s total aquaculture production reached an all-time high of 122.6 million tonnes in live weight. Around 87.5 million tonnes of that was for use as human food.

Often the primary source of many aquatic animals we like to eat, such as Atlantic salmon, sea bass, or warm water prawns, is from aquaculture. In the next ten years, the aim is to sustainably expand global aquaculture production by up to 40% so it can satisfy the growing demand for aquatic food whilst generating jobs and securing incomes.

Publications with further information 

Currently, we do not collect data on the aquaculture industry in the UK. We use third-party sources.

The EU Aquaculture Sector - Economic Report 2020

The European Commission Scientific, Economic and Technical Committee for Fisheries (STECF) report provides a comprehensive overview of the latest information available on the production, economic value, structure and competitive performance of the aquaculture sector at the national and EU level. This report includes data for 2008 to 2018. 

Follow the link below to the report. 

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022

The UN FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2022 report presents quantitative evidence of the growing role of fisheries and aquaculture in providing food, nutrition and employment.

Follow the link below to the report.