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October 19th 2020

New figures published by Scottish Government on 19th October show record-breaking production of Scottish salmon in 2019. The Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey for 2019 showed that the sector farmed 203,881 tonnes of salmon last year, an increase of 30.7 per cent on 2018.

Earlier this year statistics from HMRC showed that exports of fresh Scottish salmon had also achieved a record high with an increase of 26 per cent to 94,000 tonnes. Employment on salmon farms also increased last year by 185 to 1651.

Hamish Macdonell, Director of Strategic Engagement at the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said:

"These figures show what a great success story Scottish salmon continues to be. Our farmers achieved record production levels in 2019, employed more people and exported more around the world. In doing so, they injected significant sums into many of Scotland's most sparsely populated rural areas and boosted the economy as a whole. This is a sector we can all be proud of."

The main findings are;

  • In 2019, production of Atlantic salmon increased by 47,856 tonnes (30.7%) to 203,881 tonnes. This is the highest ever level of production recorded in Scotland
  • The total number of smolts produced in 2019 increased by 4.3 million (9%) to 51.4 million, this is the highest annual smolt production recorded in Scotland
  • The total number of staff employed in marine salmon production during 2019 increased by 185 to 1,651 staff

Commenting on the Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey 2019, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

"The latest figures show record levels of salmon being produced by fish farms with the finfish sector on track to achieve its sustainable growth target of 210,000 tonnes by 2020.

"With increased jobs and stock across all farmed fish I congratulate the sector for its efforts, delivering unprecedented production of this nutritious, quality seafood and creating more highly paid, highly skilled jobs in many of our most remote and fragile communities.

"I look forward to salmon maintaining its place as Scotland's biggest food export, as a key contributor to our food and drink success story which in turn is supporting the wider supply chain. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and threats from Brexit, we will do all we can to support the sector and the benefits it brings, working to drive improvements in research, innovation and regulation to deliver further sustainable growth."

While 2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year due to coronavirus, the sector has ensured that all staff have been protected with a variety of safety measures and farming has continued. As a result of all these efforts production is estimated to grow again this year, to around 207,000 tonnes, according to the Scottish Government statistics. While exports have been severely hampered by the impact of coronavirus, sales within the UK market have grown this year.

Atholl Duncan, chair of SSPO, said:

"Today's figures demonstrate the importance of salmon to the Scottish economy, particularly as the country emerges from the challenges of Covid."

Click here to read the full Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey for 2019.


  1. The importance of salmon to the Scottish economy was reported in a recent Marine Scotland commissioned report Estimation of the Wider Economic Impacts of the Aquaculture Sector in Scotland

The aquaculture sector contributed approximately £885 million to the wider Scottish economy and supported 11,700 jobs in 2018, according to new research.

The economic impact of aquaculture is widely felt beyond the industry. It is an important provider of employment in rural Scotland and wages are often higher than other industries, with salmon production staff costs averaging £43,000.

The report also found that Scottish salmon represents the UK's largest food export by value.

The study considered the wider value of the sector to the Scottish economy and the source of these impacts. Key findings include:

  • aquaculture contributed £94.1 million in taxes paid to local, Scottish and UK Governments in 2018
  • the aquaculture sector spent £1.4 billion on supplies and capital investments in 2018, with the majority (76%) of these goods and services purchased from within Scotland
  • the majority of this impact came from salmon farming and the processing of aquaculture products. In 2018 the majority of the Gross Value Added (GVA) of aquaculture was from the salmon production subsector, followed by aquaculture processing. Combined, these accounted for 96% of the GVA impact of the aquaculture sector
  • staffing costs accounted for 12% of the turnover of the aquaculture sector - £185 million in 2018. Staffing costs have risen in recent years following an increase in the number of jobs supported by the sector and the higher workforce skills

The full report can be downloaded here: https://www.scottishsalmon.co.uk/media/487