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March 12th 2020

As the UK's number one food export, restrictions imposed across the globe to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic are inevitably impacting on the Scottish salmon farming sector.

Flight restrictions and the cancellation of routes means that the ability to supply Scottish salmon to some major markets is being hampered.

Hamish Macdonell, Director of Strategic Engagement for the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said: "Our top priority is, and always will be, the health and wellbeing of people everywhere and this includes those working in our sector and our customers. That is why we are determined to play our part in ensuring this crisis eases as quickly as possible.

"However, as the UK's top food export, Scottish salmon is prominent in a number of key markets which are now facing restrictions - of various sorts - because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

"This has led to problems in getting salmon to our customers in different parts of the world, problems which are likely to get worse before they get better.

"As a result, we are working with the Scottish and UK governments and environmental regulators to keep fish in the water for longer, where this is appropriate, and looking at other measures to give our members more flexibility in dealing with these market disruptions.

"It has so far been relatively straightforward working through these measures as the preparatory work was done ahead of a possible 'no deal' Brexit last year, when similar market problems were anticipated.

"It is worth noting, however, that the UK market for salmon remains strong at the moment as customers stock up in anticipation of further restrictions at home and some of our member companies are looking actively at market substitution as a way of coping with the ongoing drop off in demand from other parts of the world.

"We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and work with the authorities to do all we can to minimise the disruption caused by this worldwide crisis."

Trade shows across the world have also been cancelled, most notably Seafood Expo North America which was due to start this Sunday and the world's largest seafood show, hosted in Brussels, Seafood Expo Global which was scheduled for April.

Speaking about the cancellations Hamish Macdonell said: : "We are obviously disappointed with the cancellation of trade shows but repeat that our top priority is protecting the health and welfare of people - particularly those working in our sector - and as these decisions were taken precautionary measures to stop the virus spreading, we support those decisions."