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Coronavirus: Salmon producers seek change to pen limits

Mar 13, 2020

Scottish salmon producers are seeking permission to exceed the maximum permitted tonnage of fish in pens, following the coronavirus outbreak.

The industry’s trade body said market disruption caused by the virus could force firms to keep stock growing for longer than usual.

Most Scottish farming sites currently have a 2,500-tonne limit for fish.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation said it was working on the issue with governments and regulators.

Hamish Macdonell, from the trade body, said Scottish salmon was “prominent” in a number of key markets which were now facing various restrictions because of coronavirus.

‘Market disruptions’

He said: “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.”

He added: “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.”