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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. 

Seaweed farming and harvesting is an emerging sector in Scotland, which has the potential to become commercially successful in the future.   

Our role 

We provide leases for area of seabed which are used to:  

  • Farm finfish, such as salmon and trout 

  • Farm shellfish, such as mussels, scallops and oysters 

  • Farm Seaweed.  


We provide licences for seaweed harvesting. We only issue these licenses once NatureScot confirm they are satisfied that there is no evident risk of unacceptable environmental impacts.  

We are not a regulator, and we will not issue a lease unless all other statutory consents are in place.    

How we contribute  

As well as awarding and managing leases, we contribute to the success of Aquaculture in Scotland with a research programme which includes:  

  • Exploring options for commercial seaweed farming 

  • Evaluating the critical mass required for economically viable shellfish production 

We have also worked with the Scottish Government to create an online overview of the industry in Scotland

Business resources  

For details of how to obtain and operate an Aquaculture lease with us, please consult the sections below.

Before you make an application, we encourage you to: 

  • Contact us to check on the availability of the location 
  • Discuss your proposals with statutory authorities 
  • Discuss your proposals with anyone else likely to be involved in or affected by the development 

Scotland’s seabed is a shared public space that supports many diverse interests. Its sustainable use extends beyond compliance with development and sector specific regulation and includes broader obligations for responsible care and treatment of a shared public asset. Crown Estate Scotland considers this is best achieved through practices that:

  • incorporate co-operation with other marine users to minimise risk of both impacts on respective interests as well as cumulative impacts, and
  • recognise the duty of care incumbent on all who use and are supported by the resources of Scotland’s marine environment, irrespective of the scope of regulatory controls,

These are most clearly summarised as measures that promote and enable co-existence and good stewardship.

Discussion with Other Marine Users

The granting of regulatory consents requires the input of statutory consultees as part of their determination and early engagement with these authorities is strongly recommended. 

A consultation guidance document, with information on regulatory contacts can be found here.

In addition, Crown Estate Scotland recommends early pre-application discussions with other marine users to identify and resolve issues to enable co-existence. A list of key stakeholders is given below. This is not an exhaustive list; stakeholders will vary by location but is given to help applicants begin to identify marine users that may be impacted by developments.

Fishing Interests

Fishing is an important industry for Scotland. Working with local fishermen to identify key fishing grounds, areas and/or access that maybe needed for shelter is advised.

Consideration of how developments can be designed so as to not displace industry, but co-exist will be key to incorporate co-operation with other marine users. Contacts for the local Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups are given below to help with this. 

Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups & Contacts

West Highland Anchorages & Moorings Association (WHAM).

WHAM works to ensure that small vessels have unrestricted access to anchorage. This is particularly important to ensure vessels can get to a safe haven in times of bad weather.  Early consultation with WHAM to identify areas that need unrestricted access is recommended.

Transport Routes

Scotland has many islands and remote locations that are serviced by ferries. Discussions with ferry operators to ensure that developments are not going to hinder that service or displace areas needed in bad weather is advised in areas that this might be likely.

The main ferry service providers in Scotland are:


In some instances, there has been the potential for a development to coincide with a safe route used by the lifeboat association. Discussion with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to check safe lifeboat passage in areas at potential risk should be considered.  

Recreational Sailing

The west coast and islands are popular with recreational sailors, many from local clubs and associations around the area in addition to visitors from further afield. Prospective developers should identify and engage with these sailing interests to confirm the proposals do not impact unacceptably on their activites.

If you would like to discuss this with a member of the team please contact

You may apply to lease seabed for aquaculture at any time, but you will need permissions from other bodies before we can award one. 

You will need the following permissions, based on the kind of lease you are applying for: 

  • For finfish farming, you will need a SEPA CAR consent, Marine Licence and Planning Consent
  • For shellfish farming, you will need a Marine Licence and Planning Consent  
  • For seaweed farming, you will need a Marine Licence 

If you apply before you have the permissions, we may be able to grant you a lease option, which can be progressed to a full lease once they are in place. 

To apply for a Crown Estate Scotland lease to farm finfish, shellfish or seaweed: 


Download our application forms and guidance notes from the sidebar. Please note that: 

  • Renewal forms are for existing sites that do have a Crown Estate Scotland reference number 

Aquaculture charges depend different factors for finfish and shellfish. 

For finfish, charges are based on net gutted weight and species.  

  • For example, we currently charge £27.50 per tonne for salmon  

For shellfish, charges are based on length of rope and other types of equipment.  

  • For example, we currently charge 20 pence per metre for mussels, with a minimum charge of £135 p.a. 

Both finfish and shellfish rents are reviewed every five years. 

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 outputs of that review will be implemented at a later date. 

To discuss our rents and charges, please contact

Assigning or renouncing your lease 

Once you have a lease, you will also have the option to assign it to another party – for example, if you are selling your business – or to renounce it. 

To assign your lease to another party, use this Assignation form

To renounce your lease, use one of the two forms below. 

Decommissioning and removal of deployed equipment 

At the end of your lease, all equipment associated with the fish farm including moorings must be completely removed.  

We can request a seabed survey to confirm that removals have taken place.