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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Business / Value of isles salmon reaches record high

THE VALUE of salmon produced in Shetland last year rose to over £215 million, according to new figures.

Laxfirth salmon farm, which shot more seals than any other salmon farm in 2013 and 2014, but now hopes to stop altogether thanks to new Econets. Photo Shetnews

This was an increase from £176 million in the previous year.

Local Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) general manager Davie Sandison said he was “very pleased” at the figures, which see the overall turnover value reach a record high.

Data from 2017 Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey showed that nearly 39,000 tonnes of salmon was produced in the isles last year.

This was up from 37,464 on 2016 – although in 2014 over 46,000 tonnes was produced.

The north coast and west Highlands region continued to be the biggest area for production in Scotland, with a value of over £308 million in 2017.

The survey reveals that there were 207 full-time and 12 part-time staff working in farmed salmon in Shetland last year.

It shows that there was a reduction in the number of smolts (young salmon) produced in Shetland from 3.428 million in 2016 to 3.055m in 2017.

However, this is expected to rise up to 3.75 million by 2019.

Nationally the value of Atlantic salmon in Scotland surpassed the £1 billion mark for the first time.

Scottish fisheries minister Fergus Ewing praised the figures but warned that the success is “directly threatened by the UK Government’s Brexit plans”.

“The fish farm industry forms an integral part of Scotland’s rural economy – creating jobs and providing capital in some of our most rural communities,” he said.

“So it’s very encouraging to see salmon production value on the increase yet again.”

SSPO chairman Gilpin Bradley added: “Demand for quality Scottish salmon continues to outstrip supply and the sector aspires to grow to meet demand, but we also recognise the importance of steady, sustainable development.

“These new figures, alongside the investment in tackling emerging challenges give us great confidence in the sector’s ability for sustainable growth over the coming years.”

The news hasn’t come as music to everyone’s ears, however.

Campaigner Don Staniford has reiterated his concerns over welfare problems in some of Scotland’s salmon farms, as well as lice and mortality rates.

The fish is set to be the focus of a special documentary Saving Our Salmon on BBC Two on Tuesday night.