Scottish salmon production hits record level

Production of Atlantic salmon in Scotland last year was 205,393 tonnes, a 7% increase on the 2020 production total and the highest level of production recorded in Scotland.

The figure comes from the Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey 2021, published by the Scottish Government today. The survey is based on data from the fish farmers.

The survey also shows that mortality continues to be a problem, with smolt survival for the 2019 input year class at 74.4%, down from 77.5% for the 2018 class. Mortality figures include culled fish and escapes.

The survey showed increases in the production of grilse and year 2 salmon but a decrease in the production of year 0 salmon and pre-salmon during 2021. The number of staff directly employed on the farms decreased by 135. Overall, there was an increase in the productivity of tonnes produced per person from 117.9 to 137.4. The estimated harvest forecast for 2022 is 189,693 tonnes.

The trend towards concentrating production in larger sites was maintained with 87% of production being concentrated in the sites producing over 1,000 tonnes per annum. The number of active sites producing salmon continued to fall, with 212 in 2021 compared with 231 in 2020 and 255 in 2012.

During 2021, there was an increase in the number of ova produced to 46.3 million. The number of ova laid down to hatch decreased by 7% to 72.8 million. 2021 saw 60% of ova supplied from foreign sources with remaining 40% being derived from GB broodstock (an increase of 199% on the 2020 figure). Smolt production increased to 51.2 million, with 59% being produced as S½ smolts, 40% as S1 smolts and less than 1% as S1½ smolts. The number of staff directly employed on freshwater sites decreased by one in 2021 to 291 staff while productivity decreased to 175,900 smolts per person. Projections for 2022 suggest that more smolts will be produced than was seen in 2021, followed by a further increase in 2023.

Rainbow trout

The production of rainbow trout increased by 8% in 2021 to 8,156 tonnes and was directed at the table (94%) and restocking (6%) markets. The total numbers of staff employed by the sector increased by 12 to 146. There was an overall decrease in the productivity of the industry to 55.9 tonnes per person.

In 2021, the number of eyed ova laid down to hatch (4.9 million) decreased by 1.4 million and was mainly triploid stock (99.7%). The proportion of ova from GB broodstock increased to 26%. Denmark was the largest source of imported ova with 52% of the total, this was a decrease proportionally from 2020. The Scottish rainbow trout industry continues to be highly dependent on imported ova. Additionally, imports of part grown rainbow trout from Northern Ireland continued in 2021.

Other species

There was a decrease in the production of brown/sea trout from 24 tonnes in 2020 to 23 tonnes in 2021. Halibut production occurred in 2021 but the figure cannot be shown without revealing the production of individual companies. In 2021, the total number of staff employed in the production of other species increased by six to 41. The total tonnage for other species produced in 2021 was 61,000 compared with 43,000 tonnes (excluding halibut) in 2020.

Figures for other species include farmed lumpsucker and wrasse,  which continued to be produced for use as cleaner fish.

The Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey 2021 can be viewed online and more details will appear in the Fish Farmer Yearbook 2022, coming out in December.


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