SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott: "These figures show the worth of the salmon sector as an economic driver for Scotland." Photo: SSPO.

Scottish salmon exports to EU up 74% despite Brexit

Scotland’s salmon farmers exported a record volume of fresh fish to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021, despite significant post-Brexit disruptions in January, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) said today.

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Figures compiled by the SSPO from information supplied by all of Scotland’s salmon producers reveal that 19,410 tonnes of salmon, worth more than £100 million, were exported to the EU in Q1 of this year. That is an increase of more than 8,200 tonnes (74%) compared to the same period in 2020.

However, intense competition in the marketplace meant that while volumes were up, values did not increase at a corresponding rate.

Scottish salmon exports to the EU

  Volume (tonnes) Value (£m)
Q1 2021 19,410 £104m
Q1 2020 11,150 £84m
Q1 2019 10,999 £69m

The SSPO said the figures highlight the resilience of the Scottish salmon farming sector and reflect the extensive preparation and additional resources the sector allocated to best maintain the smooth and efficient supply process it previously enjoyed.

SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said that additional bureaucracy, paperwork, delays and confusion arising from Brexit have left salmon farmers incurring costs of at least £11 million but that he remained confident that 2021 will be a strong year for the sector.

‘A great result for the Scottish economy’

“This is a great result for the Scottish salmon farmers and the Scottish economy,” said Scott. “As the country and companies start to bounce back from the huge problems presented by Covid these figures show the worth of the salmon sector as an economic driver for Scotland, aiding the country’s renewal through job creation and tax revenues.

“Salmon farmers remain vulnerable to the problems caused by Brexit. Export volumes to the EU may well be up for the first quarter of the year but increased delays in getting products to our EU markets have kept values low.

“The SSPO will continue to work with the UK and Scottish governments to find ways to streamline red tape and ensure our members can offer their customers the certainty of getting fresh, nutritious fish to EU markets on time.”

£200k a month on red tape

Salmon producers are spending an additional £200,000 a month on extra paperwork because of Brexit, and it takes an extra two hours for each seafood load to be processed and given an export health certificate (EHC) for transport to the EU. In some cases, this process is taking four hours or longer.

The SSPO has previously called for EHCs to be redrawn, simplified and digitised.