Scotland’s farmed salmon industry could face another round of inquiry after official data revealed the number of destroyed fish on farms rose threefold in 2021 to nearly 13 million fish over an eight-year period.
It was four years ago when the salmon industry faced parliamentary scrutiny over the number of fish it destroys. At that time, there were two million fewer fish deaths (4,515 tonnes) reported, according to The Herald on Sunday.
Edward Mountain, the politician who chaired the salmon farming probe four years ago, says the industry seems to not have been able to address the issue of the number of fish dying. He has made a formal request to the Scottish Government for a further review of the industry given the mortalities “increasing at an alarming rate”.
Farmers and producers have reportedly faced a number of challenges in the past several months, including bad weather which affected harvests; post-Brexit and pandemic-induced labour shortages.
Salmon Scotland, the voice of the industry, said theirs is the only major livestock sector that routinely publishes survival rates.
“These show that, in the first seven months of this year, the average monthly survival rate for Scottish farm-raised salmon was 98.7% – this compares to a survival rate of just 0.5% in the wild,” the spokesman said.
Scotland exports £600 million ($642.8 million) in farmed salmon annually, making it the country’s single biggest food export. It is estimated to support 12,000 jobs and 3,600 suppliers locally. In the first half of 2022, international sales of Scottish salmon were valued at £280 million ($300 million), putting it on course for record exports this year, the paper reported.
The Salmon Scotland spokesman said the industry has been calling on the Scottish and UK governments to support the sector so it could continue to grow and provide more local jobs and more revenue for the UK economy.