Scottish salmon farming employment rises by 13%

By Douglas Fraser
Business/economy editor, Scotland

image copyrightScottish Salmon Company

Salmon farming saw employment rise 13% last year, to 2,472 full-time jobs.

But, as part-time employment fell, total pay rose at a slower pace - up 5% to £75m, according to the industry's annual economic report.

That was part of spending on suppliers and services which the industry says was worth £595m.

Of that, the Scottish Salmon Producers' Association (SSPO) said £390m was spent within Scotland, and £164m spent within the Highlands and Islands.

A strong set of financial figures showed the value of exports was up 17%. But facing "biological issues", the volume went down 11%.

Those biological challenges are mainly sea lice infestations, forcing operators to harvest cages before the fish are fully grown.

'More challenging'

Investment in the industry during 2016 held up, at £63m.

Last week, one of the biggest producers, Marine Harvest, reported Scottish production is expected to fall 18% next year to 47,000 tonnes.

With its third quarter results, the Norway-based firm commented these "biological costs are somewhat more challenging going forward", with higher costs expected next year.

However, Marine Harvest also noted financial results for Scottish production are much stronger than they were last year.

Jobs, salaries and spending around the country

image copyrightGetty Images

Western Isles

Employment: 363 (+12%)

Capital investment: £3.65m (-77%)

Salaries: £8.8m (-8%)

Local industry spend: £8.4m (-11%)


Employment: 904 (+24%)

Capital investment: £28.9m (+108%)

Salaries: £25.1m (+9%)

Local industry spend: £87.4m (+9%)

Argyll & Bute

Employment: 466 (+6%)

Capital investment: £11.1m (-21%)

Salaries: £14.4m (+11%)

Local industry spend: £24m (+10%)


Employment: 421 (+2%)

Capital investment: £10.6m (-18%)

Salaries: £13.9m (+1%)

Local industry spend: £40.5m (+23%)


Employment: 161 (+19%)

Capital investment: £7.5m (+20%)

Salaries: £4.9m (+31%)

Local industry spend: £4.3m (+64%)

The SSPO highlighted the role of the industry as a local employer in remote communities. "Salmon farming is not just a viable career, but is now recognised as a career destination," it noted.

Last year, 111 people were taken on as modern apprentices or for National Awards.

However, the annual economic report urged an improvement in digital links, transport and housing for those remote communities.

The employment figures follow news that Scottish salmon exports reached a record value of £346m in the first half of 2017 - up 70% on the same period last year, government figures reveal.

The industry saw 29,000 tonnes of fresh salmon worth £190m sold in the second period of this year alone.

That was a near 10-tonne increase on the 19,150 tonnes (£109m) exported in the corresponding period of 2016.

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