Scottish farmed salmon exports experienced a 17 per cent growth in value last year but a steep drop in volume, according to data supplied by HM Revenue and Customs.
The shortfall in supply worldwide caused a growth in prices and this was reflected in a strong rise of benefits for producers. In addition, the sterling pound weaknening favoured exporters from Scotland.
Scottish salmon export value had dropped by 21.9 per cent in 2015, to GBP 386 million but last year it grew to GBP 451 million, which implies a rise of 16.8 per cent.
In 2016 there was a big recovery in exports into the European Union (EU), up 37 per cent to GBP 204 million-worth. France was the biggest single EU market within the bloc.
Meanwhile, the tonnage of exported salmon, which had declined by more than a quarter in 2015 (from 100,000 tonnes in 2014 to 83,400 tonnes), fell even further last year, to 74,600 tonnes (-10.5 per cent).
The decline was largely due to a fall in the supply of fish, and a reduced average size, attributed in part to "biological challenges," such as sea lice spread.
In relation to this challenge, the biggest producer, Marine Harvest, published figures recently showing that 69 per cent of its farms last year breached levels when an outbreak of the parasite.
All in all, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) claims that recent evidence suggests that the problem may now be reducing, so an increase is expected of 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes in production this year. If that happens, it could make 2017 a record export year.
"We sell every fish we produce. There's never a shortage of demand. The price may not be as strong in 2016, but it will still be very strong this year. We hope we can get back to 90,000 tonnes of export,” pointed out Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the SSPO.
However, the industry warned of the impact of losing migrant workers who do much of the processing of salmon and other food, the BBC reported.
If Scotland has to trade with the rest of the EU on the same basis as Norway, that would mean a 2 per cent tariff on exports of fresh fish and 13 per cent on processed fish, including smoked salmon.
The industry chief said there would be even more of a concern about future delays due to paperwork at European borders, following Britain's exit from the EU.