ALMOST 60 million eggs were imported to boost the Scottish salmon industry last year, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Now campaigners have raised fresh fears about the identity of the country’s lucrative farmed fish sector.

A total of 58m ova were brought into the country for use in salmon farming in 2017.

Most – 40m – came from Norway, where the government has barred the use of roe of Scottish origin in its farms on the grounds that escapes of fish grown from the eggs would threaten its national biodiversity.

The country’s ministry of climate and environment said “scientific assessments” had raised concerns about “negative effects on the Norwegian wild salmon populations”.

Earlier this year The National told how the head of a major fish firm called on the Scottish Government to introduce similar restrictions, claiming that this country’s multi-billion pound salmon farming sector could become so reliant on imported eggs that it makes “a mockery of the brand ‘Scottish salmon’”.

The comments came from Neil Manchester of Hendrix Genetics in a letter to Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and, when they were revealed in May, the Scottish Government said: “We do not consider Atlantic salmon ova of Norwegian origin to be an alien or locally absent species according to the definitions provided in EU Regulation and have no plans to restrict their import into Scotland.”

The comment came two months after Holyrood announced £700,000 funding to tackle the decline in wild salmon stocks.

Survival rates of salmon during their marine phase have fallen from 25% to 5% over the past 40 years and the cash was targeted at research on safeguarding the species from factors including pollution, predation and poaching.

At that time, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We must do all we can to safeguard the future of this iconic species.”

Now campaigner Don Staniford, director of Scottish Salmon Watch, has called for a great focus on ova imports over biodiversity and welfare fears. On the implication for a product sold on its provenance, he said: “So-called Scottish salmon is a scam, shame and a consumer con.”

According to a Holyrood publication from 2016, ova imports increased by 50m from 2005-15.