Despite the headwinds of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Scotland’s salmon exports to European Union countries in the first quarter of this year were up by 74%, by volume, compared with the same period last year.

Figures compiled by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) from information supplied by all of Scotland’s salmon producers reveal that 19,410 tonnes of Scottish salmon, worth more than £100m, were exported to the EU in Q1 of this year. That is an increase of more than 8,200 tonnes on Q1 in 2020, and a record total for Q1 in any year.

The level of prices in 2021 means, however, the value of exports did not increase by the same rate.

Exports to the EU now account for 69% of global sales for Scotland’s salmon producers, by volume, compared with 56% in 2019.

SSPO Chief Executive Tavish Scott said: “This is a great result for the Scottish salmon farmers and the Scottish economy. As the country and companies start to bounce back from the huge problems presented by Covid these figures show the worth of the salmon sector as an economic driver for Scotland, aiding the country’s renewal through job creation and tax revenues.

“Salmon farmers remain vulnerable to the problems caused by Brexit. Export volumes to the EU may well be up for the first quarter of the year but increased delays in getting products to our EU markets have kept values low.

“The SSPO will continue to work with the UK and Scottish governments to find ways to streamline red tape and ensure our members can offer their customers the certainty of getting fresh, nutritious fish to EU markets on time.”

Scott said that additional bureaucracy, paperwork, delays and confusion arising from Brexit have left salmon farmers incurring costs of at least £11m million, but added that he remains confident that 2021 will be a strong year for the sector.

The SSPO estimates that salmon producers in Scotland are spending an additional £200,000 a month on extra paperwork because of Brexit, while each seafood load is taking around two more hours to process, since the end of the Brexit transition period.

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