Nicki Holmyard
Increasing imports of Chilean Atlantic salmon are worrying the smaller Scottish players.
Latest Customs data show imports have tripled from 500 tonnes in 1999 to 1,500 in 2002.
Scottish producers said they were seeing a rise in the amount of Chilean product being processed.
One of Scotland's remaining independent salmon producers, Wester Ross Salmon, reported stiff competition in the lead up to Christmas.
A spokesman said: "One smokery, supplying three of the leading supermarkets, processed four containers of Chilean salmon fillets in preference to Scottish fillets for the Christmas market, and we know others were doing the same." Chilean salmon is currently available on the market at £1 per kilo less than Scottish salmon.
The Scots also feel imports benefit from a less astringent regulatory environment.
A dumping allegation case against both Chile and the Faeroes is being considered by Brussels with a ruling expected soon, but although dumping by Chilean firms has been proven, the Scots are not anticipating the EU to press its case.
The US is also investigating a dumping charge against Chile and is expected to impose trade measures in the near future. The fear among UK producers is that this will open the flood gates for increased exports to the EU, if it is seen as a soft option'.

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