SCOTTISH salmon production fell by 33,682 tonnes, or 17.8 per cent, last year to 156,025 tonnes, with the reduction attributed to fewer fish in the water.
But the projected estimate for 2019 suggests an increase to 190,499 tonnes, according to the annual Scottish fish farm production survey, published today.
Commenting on the figures, Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the SSPO, said: ‘The long-term outlook for Scottish salmon production remains strong, driven by focused investment by farmers.
‘Farm raised salmon spend more than 18 months at sea, allowing farmers to anticipate annual production levels.
‘The anticipated dip in production in 2018 was the result of a one-off adjustment by farmers on stocking the year before to ensure control over some biological issues which had been witnessed in previous years. The result was that in 2018 there were fewer fish in the water to harvest.
‘The outlook for 2019 is good, with production predicted to be up because of adjusted stocking levels and good continued management of fish health, and in line with the general trend of growth which has characterised the Scottish salmon sector over the last few years.’
The survey also revealed that the total number of staff in marine salmon production in 2018 increased by 77 to 1,466. Full time staff increased by 95 to 1,415 while part time staff decreased by 18 to 51.
In 2018, freshwater production was undertaken by 24 businesses at 71 sites. The number of businesses operating remained the same as in 2017 while the number of active sites decreased by eight compared with 2017.
The total number of smolts produced in 2018 increased by 945,000 (two per cent) to 47.1 million.
The number of ova laid down to hatch increased by 7.2 per cent to 70.5 million, with the majority of these (87 per cent) being derived from foreign sources. In 2018, 23,000 ova were exported.
The total number of staff in freshwater production in 2018 decreased by 13 from the 2017 figure with 278 employed (239 full time and 39 part time).
In 2018, freshwater production was undertaken by 12 businesses farming 221 active sites. This is the same number of businesses seen in 2017 but a decrease of five active site compared with 2017.
In 2018, rainbow trout production was carried out by 23 businesses operating 53 active sites. Total production in 2018 decreased by 1,224 tonnes (16 per cent) to 6,413 tonnes.
The number of ova laid down to hatch decreased by 723,000 (10 per cent) on the 2017 figure to 6,318,000.
The proportion of ova from British broodstock remained at 8.1 per cent of the total sourced. The number of fish imported to Scotland was 391,000, representing a decrease of 95,000 compared with 2017.
The number of staff employed in rainbow trout production 2018 increased by four to 136 people. The number of full time staff increased by one while part time staff increased by three. Productivity, measured as tonnes produced per person, decreased by 18.5 per cent to 47.2.
The Scottish aquaculture industry has continued to farm other species of fish during 2018. Brown/sea trout production decreased by 41 tonnes to 20 tonnes. There was also production of halibut during 2018 but this figure cannot be shown without revealing the production of an individual business.
In 2018, lumpsucker and various species of wrasse were cultured for use as a biological control for parasites.
In total, 553,000 lumpsuckers and 103,000 wrasse were produced, with 1.5 million and 37.0 million ova being laid down to hatch respectively.
The number of staff employed in other species production in 2018 decreased by two, to 60 people.
Read the full report: