Business and Industry
The Moray Firth is has long been a centre for economic activity in the north of Scotland. Its fine harbours and fertile soils have enabled a wide variety of productive activities. In the past, trade across the North Sea gave the area an international prominence, which has declined more recently. Its strategic location and deep water has given it a military significance.
More recently, its proximity to the North Sea oil fields has enabled the growth of an oil servicing industry, though the 1970's vision of a major downstream industry in the Cromary Firth was never realised. The main role of the area today is as a service and administrative centre for the Highlands and the adjacent rural areas. The growth of Inverness as the regional centre has been a major factor in the success of the area. As the hub of the Highlands, tourism is also a very important industry. The oil industry still provides employment, and there is the potential for the growth of a new renewable energy industry, including off-shore wind turbines in the Beatrice oil field in the Moray Firth, and a wood-based biofuel industry.
Hi-tech industry, especially in the medical field, has had some success. Agriculture and fisheries, though still a very important part of the life of the area, have declined in relative economic importance, however, the recent interest in local food has sparked a vibrant, if small-scale local food processing industry, which is likely to grow in the future.