Appointing a single fast-track regulatory body to rule on salmon farms in Scotland will help save the industry from being swamped with fish from Norway and Chile.

This was a near-unanimous indication from companies surveyed for a review of trends in the Scottish sector by Ernst and Young for the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Salmon farmers in Scotland are frustrated by a regulatory process involving many bodies and councils that they view as cumbersome and expensive.

They think it places Scotland at a disadvantage to Chile and Norway as farms are smaller and under constant pressure to merge. Lower-cost production overseas is a constant lure for retailers in the light of salmon's popularity.

Scottish prices have been buoyant hand-in-hand with production falling.

This year it is forecast to be around 126,000 tonnes.