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Orkney salmon sector is underachieving

UK - Orkney's production of farmed salmon is in decline, with the islands being worst affected by a recent fall in prices.

“The salmon farming sector in Orkney is underachieving and requires a unique strategy to fulfil its potential” claims Sid Patten, Chief Executive of representative body Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO).

Farmed salmon production in Orkney is in decline, falling from a high of 10,740 tonnes in 2003 to 6,600 in 2004. This represents a decrease of almost 40%. Production for 2005 is expected to be lower when the figures are released shortly. The farm employment figures have fallen to a level similar to that in 1995.

During a two-day visit to the islands, Sid Patten and SSPO Chairman Mike Gibson are to meet with representatives from the salmon sector, the local authority and the local enterprise company to highlight the need for a more joined-up approach to the sector.

“Orkney is losing out on the vast opportunities presented by the unprecedented increase in salmon consumption,” said Patten. “Whilst it is recognised that the salmon sector in Orkney has many similarities to that of Scotland as a whole, it is also evident that there are differences. It is critical that we identify any difficulties and maximise the opportunities for salmon from the islands.

“Orkney has deservedly built an unrivalled reputation for its food, and the quality of salmon is second-to-none. As the islands benefit from having such a fantastic marine resource that is globally recognised, we want to ensure that the salmon sector plays a full part in the Orkney food culture.

“Salmon farming also plays an important role in the development of rural communities, particularly island life, with many businesses reliant on the sector being successful,” added Patten.

“The need for a unique strategy to maximise the obvious advantages of Orkney, improve competitiveness and ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector in the islands has ever been more fundamental following the decline in production,” concluded Patten.

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