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Fish farms hampered

Salmon exports expected to fall from record level

Salmon production is at a new high

Salmon farmers are expecting a fall in exports this year despite stocks likely to be higher than last year’s record-breaking production level.

Figures published by the Scottish Government show the sector farmed 203,881 tonnes of salmon last year, an increase of 30.7% on 2018.

Earlier this year statistics from HMRC showed that exports of fresh Scottish salmon had also achieved a record high with an increase of 26% to 94,000 tonnes.

Production is expected to hit 207,000 tonnes this year and exports are said to be back to last year’s level.

However, the lockdown will severely hit the total export figure for 2020.

Hamish Macdonell, director of strategic engagement at the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said the figures showed that the sector injected significant sums into many of Scotland’s most sparsely populated rural areas and boosted the economy as a whole.

“This is a sector we can all be proud of,” he said.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing admitted the sector faced challenges from the pandemic and Brexit.

“We will do all we can to support the sector and the benefits it brings, working to drive improvements in research, innovation and regulation to deliver further sustainable growth,” he said.

Employment on salmon farms also increased last year by 185 to 1651. 

Mr Ewing added: “While 2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year due to coronavirus, the sector has ensured that all staff have been protected with a variety of safety measures and farming has continued.

“As a result of all these efforts production is estimated to grow again this year, to around 207,000 tonnes, according to the Scottish Government statistics. While exports have been severely hampered by the impact of coronavirus, sales within the UK market have grown this year.”

Atholl Duncan, chairman of SSPO, said: “Today’s figures demonstrate the importance of salmon to the Scottish economy, particularly as the country emerges from the challenges of Covid.”

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