FARMED Scottish salmon has secured protected legal status in a bid to prevent the risk of food fraud.

A labelling decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) means that the term “Scottish salmon” will have a new protected geographical indication (PGI) by the end of April.

The designation will label farmed Scottish salmon as coming from either “the coastal region of mainland Scotland, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Isles”.

It replaces the previous geographical indication which merely specified “Scottish farmed salmon”, which was introduced when wild Scottish salmon was still available in supermarkets.

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Wild salmon stocks have plummeted since due to decades of exploitation, habitat loss, pollution, climate change and the impact of salmon farms themselves.

Indeed, intensive salmon farming can result in the spread of diseases and sea lice to wild fish, with farmed escapees also interbreeding with wild populations.

Still, the trade body for Scotland’s salmon industry, Salmon Scotland, said the new legal designation would ensure that producers could not pass off their product as “Scottish salmon” if it does not meet the terms of the PGI.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export, with international sales of £581 million last year – led by demand in France – despite the ongoing financial challenges of Brexit.

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Salmon is also the most popular fish among UK consumers, with sales in UK retailers running at around £1.2 billion-a-year at retail.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Farm-raised Scottish salmon is a globally recognised brand and rightly considered the best in the world, so it is vital that we take steps to protect our premium product from food fraud.

“When consumers talk about ‘Scottish salmon’, they are talking about farm-raised Atlantic salmon from Scotland – and this change makes that clear, while boosting legal protection post-Brexit.

“Scotland’s salmon farmers work hard to rear their fish, and this recognition by Defra is testament to the commitment of all those in remote communities who continue to meet the growing demand for Scottish salmon at home and abroad.”

Official figures show that 2023 saw the lowest catch for wild Scottish salmon on record.