Success of Scottish Salmon

Scottish Salmon is the UK’s biggest food export.

Salmon overseas sales increased to £614million in 2021 – up 36% compared to 2020 and only marginally below the £618million recorded in 2019.

The official HMRC figures have demonstrated the strong global demand for Scotland’s unrivalled farm-raised salmon.

The industry directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and supports more than 3,600 suppliers, with 10,000 jobs dependent on the sector. Exports were shipped to 52 different markets last year, with growth across 10 of the top 20 markets.

Exports to France were up £119million to £304million, followed by the USA as the second main market (up £47million to £152million) and China (up £31million to £45million).

The EU accounted for 61% of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports.

Image credit Scottish Government

Commenting on the success of Scottish Salmon Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“Scottish salmon plays a vital role in our food and drink success story as the UK’s biggest food export, and these figures demonstrate the growing, global appetite for this nutritious and low carbon food source.

“Exports returning to levels close to pre-pandemic in spite of the disastrous impact of Brexit don’t happen on their own.

“This is testament to our resilient and hard-working aquaculture sector. The Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland have also collaborated and supported the industry with new certification requirements to the EU, including setting up and staffing export hubs.

“We will continue to support businesses in the aquaculture sector as well as safeguard our marine environment as part of our green recovery and transition to net zero for future generations to enjoy and make a living from.”

The recently published Griggs Report on the Aquaculture Sector has examined the regulatory framework. It states in its introduction:

  • All the people and organisations that I have met with or had input from think that the current regulatory system for aquaculture is not fit for purpose and in one form or another needs change; and
  • The degree of mistrust, dislike, and vitriol at both an institutional and personal level between the industry (mainly finfish), certain regulators, parts of the Scottish Government and other stakeholders is at a level that I have never seen before which makes the current working relationships within the sector challenging.

The Griggs Report recommends ‘  a new single consenting document for aquaculture should be created, that mandates what all parties (the applicant, regulators, the community, and other statutory consultees) involved in an application are subject to, derived from a pre-application consultation prior to submission and ‘that will allow sustainable aquaculture development in Scotland.’

The report looked closely at the Norwegian model and urges that a science evidence based path is followed.

Welcoming the Griggs Report Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, Tavish Scott said:

“The Scottish Government now has a blueprint for change that can make Scotland a world leader in regulating the blue economy. Scotland’s salmon sector and the 10,000 people we support, are grateful to Professor Russel Griggs for his independent review. The Scottish Government are to be congratulated for commissioning this work – an assessment of the existing regulatory regime which as the report states, does not work. 

“The challenge we embrace, is to implement the Review’s recommendations.

“We will work with Government and stakeholders to build an aquaculture regulatory framework that is better, efficient and more transparent than before. One that delivers the right balance between the environment, the economy and the social licence of fish farming. Russel Griggs has given all those involved in a £1billion Scottish success story a route map to becoming internationally competitive in delivering protein for the domestic market and overseas. We urge the Scottish Government to grasp this opportunity.”

And commenting on the sales of Scottish Salmon Tavish Scott, said:

“For exports to recover to near record-levels after such a difficult economic period during the pandemic is testament to the hard work and dedication of farmers to sustainable growth in the face of increased costs.

“Maintaining production during the run-up to the festive period was achieved through extensive work done by a committed workforce as labour supply remained tight within the processing sector.

“As well as creating thousands of jobs and opportunities here at home, farm-raised Scottish salmon is a global success story with high environmental and welfare standards that puts the best-tasting and healthiest protein product on people’s plates.

“But we must also be aware that our Scandinavian counterparts are growing faster and selling more salmon, so it is imperative that government enables a regulatory framework that is both transparent and efficient to ensure that Scottish salmon retains its place as the key flag-bearer for quality exports from Scotland.”

2 replies »

  1. The growth of farmed salmon in Scotland is indeed a success story if judged by these figures, but it comes at a cost.
    This is intensive farming on an industrial scale that would not be tolerated on land. It is only because it is all but invisible on our western coastline.
    With pens holding 100,00 fish or more, the mortality rate can be as high as 20%, that’s 9.5 million dead fish to be disposed of every year.
    The pens keep the fish enclosed but they allow parasites to get in and let thousands of tonnes of waste into the surrounding water as well as infecting wild fish.
    Severe sea lice infestations on salmon can result in the fish being essentially “eaten alive” by the parasites. This is one reason our wild salmon numbers are plummeting.

    Currently, 56 farms are rated by Sepa as “very poor”, “poor” or “at risk” of severe pollution.
    Yet in the past five years no company has been fined or prosecuted.
    Together with the untold harm this industry is doing to our once pristine sea beds is it not time to reconsider the future of this industry?

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