Cooke Aquaculture Scotland has released an economic impact report showing the impact of the company’s salmon farming operations on their employees and the wider community on remote islands.
The report, titled ‘Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Orkney: A Summary of our impacts for people and communities’, found the company has had a significant positive impact on the region through the provision of skilled, good paying jobs and local investment.
Including bonus and overtime payments during period 2020-21, the report notes that Cooke’s skilled, permanent jobs, are paying 24.8 percent more than the Orkney average of £28,132 and 8.6 percent above the average £32,344 for Scotland.
“We employ 122 people in Orkney, 51 of them on our farms. That includes 25 new jobs created in 2016-2021, all of them helping to keep remote communities viable,” Joel Richardson, Vice President of Public Relations for Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, said.
The operations in the region have seen investment funnelled into communities, supporting local businesses and jobs outside of salmon farming, sustaining local schools, ferries and other services and bringing in ongoing spending within the islands.
“In Westray for example, we now provide over 23 local jobs – up from 12 in 2016…Over the past 5 years, the school roll at Westray Junior High School has increased from 60 to 90. Our newest organic sites off Stronsay created 5 new seawater jobs which have brought a much-needed economic boost to the island,” Richardson explained.
Cooke invested £18.27 million during 2016-2021 into the Orkney economy through farms, buildings, the Kirkwall packing station and spending with local businesses such as Roving Eye Enterprises, Malakoff Ltd. and others working in transport, net and boat repairs, diving, fuel and consultancy. Community donations and support from the company in Orkney from 2016-2021 has totalled £267,714 for music/culture, education, health/social care and sport.
“These local benefits will grow even more should Cooke Aquaculture Scotlands’ planning application for a new offshore 6-pen farm called East Moclett be approved later this month. It is proposed to be located to the east of Papa Westray and north of Cooke’s first offshore farm at Skelwick Skerry,” Ben Johnson, Environmental Development Manager for Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, said.