Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 14:20 UK

Scots salmon exports grow by 500%

About 52,600 tonnes of salmon were exported last year

Exports of Scottish farmed salmon have grown by 500% in the last 20 years, according to a study by the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO).

The newly-published industry research report said about 52,600 tonnes were exported during 2008 alone.

It also reported that salmon farmers' spending put £500m into the UK economy last year with £290m of that money spent in the Highlands and Islands.

The SSPO said Scotland was now the second largest producer in the world.

Norway is the biggest producer.

Other findings from the study included that 1,579 people are employed by SSPO member companies - most of them in the Highlands and Islands, followed by Shetland and Argyll and Bute.

In total, more than 6,000 people are employed in fish farming and production in Scotland.

Otter attack

Earlier this year, an effort to encourage greater co-operation between Scotland and Norway on fish farming was welcomed by the salmon producers' body.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the countries' governments aimed to open the way for joint discussions on protecting the industry.

Ways of lessening fish farms' impact on the environment were also to be explored.

The SSPO said it showed strong political support for the industry.

Meanwhile, escapees from farms continues to be a problem for the business.

Conservation groups criticised a salmon producer after 37,000 juvenile fish escaped from a farm on Mull in the latest incident.

The Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (Rafts) and the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) said the escape would endanger wild stocks.

The salmon escaped from Scottish Sea Farms Loch Frisa freshwater farm, near Tobermory, on 25 August.

The firm said it deeply regretted the escape through a damaged net, thought to be the result of an otter attack.

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