What’s happening in aquaculture in the UK and around the world
SCOTTISH salmon farmers produced the highest ever volume of fish last year, with total production of 189,707 tonnes, an increase of 26,890 tonnes, or 16.5 per cent on 2016 figures.
And farmed salmon was worth more than £1 billion to the economy for the first time last year, an increase of 37 per cent on 2016.
The level of survival on farms also improved, up to 79.1 per cent compared to 73.3 per cent the previous year.
Following the publication in October of the annual Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey, rural economy minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the salmon industry’s success.
‘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,’ said Ewing.
‘So it’s very encouraging to see salmon production value on the increase yet again. Demand for Scottish seafood has also increased domestically in recent years and, through measures such as the establishment of the Aquaculture Industry Leadership Group, we are putting in place the conditions for a sustainable industry that can meet future projected market demands.
‘This includes the pub-
lication of Scotland’s 10 Year Farmed Fish Health Framework which will ensure that fish health remains at the heart of sustainable production.’
Marine salmon production was undertaken by 12 businesses farming 226 active sites, according to the survey. This is a decrease of three businesses and 27 active site compared with 2016.
Freshwater salmon production was undertaken by 24 businesses at 79 sites.The number of businesses operating decreased by two and the number of active sites decreased by eight compared with 2016.
The total number of smolts produced in 2017 increased by 3,258,000 (six per cent) to 46.2 million, according to the production survey, published annually.
The number of ova laid down to hatch increased by 2.2 per cent to 65.7 million with the majority of these (90 per cent) being derived from foreign sources. In 2017, 339,000 ova were exported.
Just under three per cent of the smolts stocked to Scottish salmon farms were sourced from outwith Scotland, less than one per cent of which came from sources outwith Great Britain. This was a very slight decrease compared with 2016.
Production figures for this year are forecast to drop significantly, however, with an industry estimate of 150,774 projected tonnage based on stocks currently being on-grown. The decline is attributed to gill health issues in the autumn of 2017.
Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation chairman Gilpin Bradley welcomed the 2017 figures.
‘Volumes were strong and exports reached an all-time high, with sales of £600 million to more than 50 countries worldwide.
‘This is testament to the hard work and commitment of so many dedicated salmon farmers in the Highlands and islands and the global recognition of Scottish salmon’s enviable premium market position.
‘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.’
Ahead of the anticipated dip in production in 2018, the sector is putting investment in place.
There is an increased move towards the use of recirculated aquaculture systems to ensure the growth of more robust smolts, along with the installation of continuous environmental monitoring and other camera technology to closely monitor fish behaviour at sea.
Bradley, who runs Wester Ross Salmon, added:‘Salmon farmers have invested more than £60 million in new technologies and improved farming techniques, research projects and cleaner fish to remove naturally occurring sea lice which thrive in the warmer temperatures.
‘Farmers continue to work hard to improve fish health and salmon survival and we are seeing benefits coming from the new innovations.
‘It is encouraging to see that the report confirms an improvement in the industry’s survival figures as a result of the ongoing investment in this area.’
Farm-by-farm reporting of sea lice levels, introduced this year, has shown that, on the whole, lice levels during 2018 are at a five-year low.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise recently reported that employment in the industry and supply chain topped 10,000 full time equivalent jobs.
To read the full production survey, visit /www.gov.scot/ publications/scottish-fish-farm-production-survey-2017
Above: Gilpin Bradley