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Scotland's salmon farmers produced more than 200,000 tonnes (wet weight) of fish last year, a new record. Photo: SSPO.
Scotland's salmon farmers produced more than 200,000 tonnes (wet weight) of fish last year, a new record. Photo: SSPO.

Scotland’s Atlantic salmon farmers produced a record-high volume of 203,881 tonnes (live fish) last year, according to figures from Marine Scotland Science (MSS).

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The total number of smolts produced in 2019 increased by 4.3 million (9%) to 51.4 million, also a record-high amount in a year.

Production tonnage of rainbow trout increased by 992 tonnes (15%) in 2019 to 7,405 tonnes.

Questionnaires

The figures are included in MSS’s Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey, comprised from responses to questionnaires from Scottish fish farming companies.

The volume of Atlantic salmon was 47,856 tonnes (30.7%) higher than in 2018, when volumes were lower than in the seven preceding years because of lower than normal stocking by the country’s biggest salmon farmer, Mowi.

The industry estimate for this year indicates a new record of 207,630 tonnes, although it is not known if that figure takes into account Mowi’s accouncement in August that it was lowering annual global harvest guidance by 8,000 tonnes because of early-year biological problems in Scotland.

The number of rainbow trout that escaped from farms in 2019 totalled 37,372, from three escapes, and the number of Atlantic salmon that escaped totalled 28,470, also from three escapes.

Employment on salmon farms also increased last year by 185 to 1,651.

Fergus Ewing: Pledged the government would do all it could to support the sector.
Fergus Ewing: Pledged the government would do all it could to support the sector.

Boosted the economy

Hamish Macdonell, strategic engagement director for the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said: “These figures show what a great success story Scottish salmon continues to be.

“Our farmers achieved record production levels in 2019, employed more people and exported more around the world. In doing so, they 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.”

The Scottish government’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The latest figures show record levels of salmon being produced by fish farms.

Unprecedented production

“With increased jobs and stock across all farmed fish I congratulate the sector for its efforts, delivering unprecedented production of this nutritious, quality seafood and creating more highly paid, highly skilled jobs in many of our most remote and fragile communities.”

He added: “With the impact of coronavirus and threats from 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.”

Exports of fresh Scottish salmon achieved a record high with an increase of 26% to 94,000 tonnes last year, something that won’t be repeated this year. Exports have been severely hampered by the impact of coronavirus, although sales within the UK market have grown this year.

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