Fish Farmer April 2021

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Fish F armer APRIL 2021

PREDATORS How to keep them out

TRACK AND TRACE Proving provenance


Nature’s cleaners


Fish health

Faroes firm Bakkafrost invests in Scotland

From lumpfish welfare to vaccination

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12/04/2021 16:44:37

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Editor’s Welcome


he fish farming industry has had to defend its record over the past few weeks. First, a report from animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) alleged poor prac�ces on the part of the salmon farming industry in Scotland. The report was accompanied by graphic images and video footage showing fish either dead or in a bad condi�on, and it led to the suspension of RSPCA Assured Cer�fica�on for five of the leading operators in Scotland. Then Seaspiracy, a polemic documentary on Ne�lix, took aim at the seafood industry as a whole, with a range of allega�ons from unsustainable and illegal trawling through modern slavery to “unsustainable” aquaculture. Many of these allega�ons levelled against the fish farming industry have failed to stand up. RSPCA Assured restored cer�fica�on to the firms concerned following a thorough inves�ga�on, while many of the “facts” cited in Seaspiracy have been disproved or challenged, and some of the par�cipants have claimed that their views have been What’s happening in aq misrepresented or taken out of context. in the UK and around th There is no room for complacency, however. As Vince McDonagh reports in this issue, the What’s happening in aquacu Norwegian authori�es believe fish mortality in salmon farming is s�ll too high, while Chile is in the UK and around the w struggling with the latest challenge from harmful algal blooms. JENNY HJUL JENNY HJUL –– EDITOR EDITOR This month we look at how the industry is dealing with these issues, from cleaner fish JENNY –– EDITOR JENNY HJUL HJUL EDITOR without having an unacceptable impact on welfare to how to protect stock against predators Steve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham The final sessions marine mammals. We also examine the issue of traceability, which is essen�al if the many ethical producers Steve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham The final sessions salmon farming sector in Scotland, when it was to that follow sustainable prac�ces are to win and retain the public’s trust. he focus this month istopictures on Europe, the internati T HE is coincidence that andwhere videos of unhealthy Sno Fish Farmer went press, there was sti lltold no offi cialonal be the subject ofScotti a be parliamentary inquiry, embraced the These are challenging �mes for aquaculture, but addressing those challenges effjoint ec� vely industry willsent soon gathering for the (European salmon were to news outlets just as the Scotti sh news from the shScotland, parliamentary inquiry into salmon farming sector in when itEAS was tosalmon he focus this month istopictures on Europe, the internati T HE is coincidence that andwhere videos of unhealthy Sno Fish Farmer went press, there was sti lltold no offi cialonal opportunity this would provide to explain how it month. operated. can only make the industry stronger. be parliament Aquaculture Society) and WAS (World Aquaculture Society) went back to work at the start of this These farming, conducted earlier this year by the Rural Economy thewere subject ofScotti a be parliamentary inquiry, embraced industry willsent soon gathering the EASinto (European salmon to news outletsfor just asjoint the Scotti shthe news from the sh parliamentary inquiry salmon Current trends In good Julie Hesketh-Laird The industry had nothing to hide and, if given aof fair hearing, could Meet thehealth new chief exe conference, to be staged over fi ve days in the southern French images had litt le to do with the current state Scotland’s fi sh and Connecti vity (REC) committ ee. MSPs have now held fi ve opportunity this would provide explain how it month. operated. Aquaculture Society) and WAS (World Aquaculture Society) parliament back to work atto the start of this These farming, went conducted earlier this year by the Rural Economy address much of the criti cism levelled against it. Best wishes, city of Montpellier. As well as highlighti ng the latest technological farms where sea lice levels are in decline and, in fact, at a fi vemeeti ngs, in private, to consider their report and we must be Current trends In good Julie Hesketh-Laird The had to hide and, if given fair hearing, Meet thehealth new chief executiv conference, to benothing staged over days in theaof southern images had litt le to do with thefive current state Scotland’s ficould sh and industry Connecti vity (REC) committ ee. MSPs have now heldFrench five Fish Farmer supported this but at times salmon Robert Outram advances in our fast moving sector, Aqua 2018felt willthat alsohas feature year low (htt p://scotti pati ent. However, waiti ng forview, their recommendati ons been address much of the criti cism levelled against it. city ofngs, As well asare highlighti ng the latest technological farms -Montpellier. where sea lice in decline and, inwe fact, at abe fivemeeti in private, tolevels consider their report and must farmers were being drowned out bywhich theREC noisier elements offarming the sessions on emerging markets and look atinvolves the role ofthe fishusual This latest propaganda campaign, all made harder by leaks from within to anti -salmon Fish Farmer supported this atthe times salmon advances in our fast moving sector, Aqua 2018felt willthat alsohas feature year low (htt p://scotti pati ent. However, waiti ng forview, theirbut recommendati ons been angling lobby, which had called foras the investi gatiRural on. But asngs the farming in alleviati ng poverty. Increasingly, industry meeti anti -aquaculture suspects, came Holyrood’s Economy acti vists. The latest of these (see our news story on page 4) farmers were being drowned out bywhich theREC noisier elements offarming the sessions onpropaganda emerging markets and look atinvolves the role fishusual This campaign, allofthe madelatest harder by leaks from within the to anti -salmon sessions progressed, and eventually farmers’ voices were heard, are broadening their scope, tackling subjects such asthat thethe social and Connecti vity committ ee returned the summer recess we to makes grim reading for the industry asfrom itgati suggests committ ee angling lobby, which had called for the investi on. But as farming inThe alleviati ngof poverty. Increasingly, industry ngs anti -aquaculture suspects, came as Holyrood’s Rural Economy activists. latest these (see our news story onmeeti page 4) became more opti misti c. We now believe that MSPs, perhaps with acceptability of aquaculture and the contributi on it makes towe global consider its draft report into the future of salmon farming. members have been willing to listen to those campaigning to sessions progressed, and eventually farmers’ voices were heard, are broadening their scope, tackling subjects suchsummer asthat the committ social and Connecti vity committ ee returned the recess ee to makes grim reading for the industry asfrom it suggests Serving Worldwide Aquaculture Since 1977 food security and saving the planet, aindustry move that is toanti welcomed. the excepti on ofvaluable one or two Greens cahoots with -farming Those who want toWe shut down thein asbe shut down this sector, rather than to those who operate became more misti c. now believe that MSPs, perhaps with acceptability ofopti aquaculture and the contributi on ithave, makes toexpected, global consider its draft report into the future of salmon farming. members have been willing to listen to those campaigning to Also investi gati ngacti initi aties, veswhich inregard thenow developing world, Harrison campaigners, will, on balance, the industry in a Dr favourable stepped their viti involve the within it.up food security and saving the planet, aindustry move that is tobreaching welcomed. the excepti on ofvaluable one or two Greens cahoots with anti -farming Those who want shut down thein asbe expected, shut down this sector, rather thanthe tohave, those who operate Meet the team Charo Karisa ofto WorldFish writes about farming potenti al inthe Fish Farmer: Volume 44 Number 04and, light. They will hopefully see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sites to snatch photographs in Of course, such stories may be inaccurate in any case, Also investi gati ngacti initi aties, veswhich inregard thenow developing world, Harrison campaigners, will, on balance, the industry in a Dr favourable stepped viti involve breaching the within it.up their Editorial Advisory Board: Nigeria, both in catf ish and tilapia culti vati on. responsibiliti es seriously and that businesses will only ever invest in the hope of fi nding incriminati ng evidence against farmers. One committ ee’s fi ndings are not binding. Scotland’s fi sh farmers Contact us Charo Karisa ofhopefully WorldFish writes about thesnatch farming potenti al inthe light. They will see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sites to photographs ingame Of course, such stories may be inaccurate and, inof any case, Steve Bracken, Hervé Migaud, Jim Treasurer, In Scotland, the summer has been something aofwaiti ngminister, Phil Thomas What’s in a name? Dr Nick Lake growth that isfibeen sustainable. Tel: +44(0) 131 551 1000 campaigner lmed himself searching, unsuccessfully, for dead have always fortunate to have the support their Nigeria, both in catf ish and ti lapia culti vati on. responsibiliti seriously that will only ever invest the hope of fies incriminati ng businesses evidence against farmers. Onein committ ee’s finding ndings areand not binding. Scotland’s fish farmers Chris Mitchell, Jason Cleaversmith while the parliament is in recess and the members of Holyrood’s Fax: +44(0) 131 551 7901 If the ee members, those who have yet to of Phil fi sh at acommitt Marine Harvest site.especially Another said saw ‘hundreds’ Fergus Ewing, to grow sustainably. In Scotland, the summer has something ofheaof waiti ngminister, game What’s in a name? Dr Nick Lake Thomas growth that isfibeen sustainable. campaigner lmed himself searching, unsuccessfully, for dead have always fortunate tobeen have the support their and Hamish Macdonell Rural Economy and Connecti vity committ ee conti nue to weigh up Email: routram@fi visit aparliament salmon farm, would like tothe learn more about the subject of infested salmon in a pen, but we only have his word against that But it should not go unchallenged that some MSPs on REC while the is in recess and members of Holyrood’s If the committ ee members, especially those who have yetdon’t tothe fi sh at a Marine Harvest site. Another said he saw ‘hundreds’ of Fergus Ewing, to grow sustainably. the evidence in their inquiry into salmon farming. We expect Editor: RobertRural Outram their weConnecti have plenty of goodee stories in our May Even and vity committ conti nue weigh up Head Offi ce: Special Publica� ons, Fe� esto Park, of theinquiry, professional vets and biologists who manage theissue. welfare of committ ee, with their own against the growth of visit a Economy farm, like toagendas learn more about the ofthetime infested salmon in go awould but we only have his word against that Buttheir itsalmon should not unchallenged that some MSPs onsubject the REC report unti l pen, the autumn but hope the MSPs are using the bett er, they could head to the Highlands later this month, where 496 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH5 2DL the evidence in their inquiry into salmon farming. We don’t expect Designer: Andrew their Balahura these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of Code of Conduct for MSPs. As they wefully have plenty of good stories in ourgrowth May toinquiry, become acquainted with the facts about fithe shissue. farming. of the professional vets andagendas biologists who manage welfare of committ ee, with their own against the of theEven Montpellier report Dr Marti n Jaff a Doug McLeod meet the aquaculture industry en masse at Scotland’s theirthey report unti l the autumn but hope the MSPs areas using theittiis, meit Ifthey the is proud of its high standards, itsalmon says are inwill aindustry positi on to inflthe uence the future course of farming, Commercial Manager: bett er, could head to Highlands later this month, where This month also sees the reti rement of Marine Harvest’s longest these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of Code of Conduct for MSPs. As they Subscriptions to become fully acquainted with the facts about fi sh farming. biggest fi sh farming show. must mount aaquaculture much more robustWe defence oftrouble itself, through its and of businesses vital toBracken. Scotland’s economy, we have a right Janice Johnston Montpellier report Dr Marti n Jaff a Doug McLeod they will meet the industry en masse Scotland’s serving employee, Steve had no Subscrip� ons Fish Farmer If the isto proud ofreti itsAddress: high standards, as itsalmon says itcollecti is, it ng are in aindustry positi on inflthe uence the future course ofat farming, This month also sees rement of Marine Harvest’s longest will certainly be at Aquaculture UK inindustry, Aviemore and look representati ve body, the SSPO, than itthe has done tothrough date. The toWe know who they are, and weons, hope its warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the biggest fi sh farming show. Magazine Subscrip� Warners Group must a much more robustWe defence itself, through its and ofmount businesses vital toBracken. Scotland’s economy, we have a right serving employee, Steve had noof trouble collecti ng forward toand, seeing many of you there too. campaigners, we now see, willrest stop nothing, representati ves, will pressure the parliament toand investi gate before Publisher: Alisterrepresentati Benne� milestone along with of the industry, thefarmers team We will certainly be at Aquaculture UK inat Aviemore and look Publica� ons plc, The Mal� ngs, vethey body, the SSPO, than itthe has done tothrough date. The to know who are, and wethe hope industry, its at Fish warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the should be prepared toyou fiBourne ght back. the to REC report isStreet, published. Farmer wish him all the very best for the future. West forward seeing many of there too. campaigners, we now see, will stop at representati ves, will pressure the parliament toand investi gateatbefore Rising stars Marti nBrown Jaff a Orkney anniversary Janet milestone and, along with the rest of thenothing, industry, thefarmers team Fish Lincolnshire PE10 9PH should be prepared to fi ght back. the REC report is published. Farmer wish him all the very best for the future.

Conte Conten 4-15 4-14 News 4-15 4-14 News

Fair hearing French connection Farmers must fight back Uphold the code Fair hearing French connection Farmers must Uphold the codefight back


16-21 16-17 16-22 Industry pioneer News Extra platform Parliamentary in 16-21 16-17 16-22 Industry pioneer News Extra platform Parliamentary inquir 22-23 18-19 24-27 Salmon market SSPO 22-23 18-19 24-27 Salmon market SSPO

Robert Outram

24 20 20-21 28-29 BTA Shellfish Comment 24 20 20-21 28-29 BTA Shellfish Comment


Cover: Lumpfish Photo: sspo

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26 22-23 30 Shellfi sh Comment BTA 26 22-23 30 Shellfi sh Comment BTA 28-31 24-25 32-33 SSPO Comment Scottish Shellfi sh Sea Far 28-31 24-25 32-33 SSPO Comment Scottish Shellfi sh Sea Farms Rising stars Marti nBrown Jaff a Orkney anniversary Janet 32-33 26-27 26-30 34-35 Shellfi shfiSea Cleaner sh Far Scottish Comment 32-33 26-27 26-30 34-35 Janet Machrihanish Orkney farm Marti nBrown Jaff a visit Shellfi shfiSea Cleaner sh Farms Scottish Comment 13


Janet Machrihanish Orkney farm Marti nBrown Jaff a visit Advisory Board: Steve Contact Tel: +44(0) us 131 551 1000 MeetEditorial the team Fax: +44(0) 131 551 7901 Bracken, Scott Landsburgh, Hervé Steve Bracken, Scott HervéLandsburgh, Migaud, Editorial Advisory Board: Steve Tel: +44(0) 131 551 1000 Migaud, PatrickJim Smith and Jim Hervé Patrick Smith, PatrickMigaud, Smith, Treasurer and Fax: email: +44(0) 131 551 7901 Bracken, Scott Landsburgh, Hervé 3 Steve Bracken, Scott HervéLandsburgh, Migaud, jhjul@fi Treasurer, Wiliam Jim Treasurer and Dowds William Dowdsemail: William Dowds Marti nofJaff a era Vaccines New player Dawn new Migaud, PatrickJim Smith and Jim Hervé Patrick Smith, PatrickMigaud, Smith, Treasurer and Editor: Jenny Hjul jhjul@fi Treasurer, Wiliam Jim Treasurer and Dowds William Dowds William Dowds Head Office: Special Publications, Dawn Marti nofJaff a era Vaccines New player new Designer: Andrew Balahura Fettes Park, 496 Ferry Road, Editor: Jenny Hjul Advertising Manager: Team Leader: HeadEdinburgh, Office: Special Publications, 12/04/2021 16:42:05 EH5 2DL Designer: Andrew Balahura

34-35 28-29 32-33 36-41 Comment Cleaner Orkneyvisitfish Farm 34-35 28-29 32-33 36-41 Comment Cleaner Orkneyvisitfish Farm 36-39 32-35 34-35 43-45


Fish F armer In the April issue... News

What’s happening in the UK and around the world

Processing News


Update from the processing sector



Mar�n Jaffa



Hamish Macdonell



Vince McDonagh



Nicki Holmyard



Vince McDonagh



The reality of Brexit

Fish Health and Welfare


Including vaccina�on and cleaner fish



An�-predator solu�ons

Processing and Traceability


Robert Outram & Sandy Neil

Training and Careers


The impact of the pandemic

What’s New

Monthly update on industry innova�ons and solu�ons

Industry Diary

All the latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses

Aqua Source Directory Opinion



Nick Joy


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Find all you need for the industry





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United Kingdom News


Seaspiracy row: seafood industry hits back at Netflix documentary’s claims The fishing and aquaculture industries, scientists and environmental activists have clashed over a controversial documentary that questions whether the seafood industry can ever be called ‘sustainable’

IN the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy, film-maker Ali Tabrizi examines the seafood sector’s claims to sustainability and argues that it is fundamentally unsustainable and unethical. Starting with an examination of the impact of throwaway plastic on sea life, Tabrizi quickly moves on to mount a wide-ranging critique of the fishing industry, from illegal large-scale trawling and modern slavery on board ship to “dolphin safe” tuna fishing and discarded nets contributing to seaborne pollution. He concludes that the only way to protect the oceans is to abandon eating seafood altogether. Seaspiracy also examines the aquaculture industry as an alternative to wild fishing, and concludes that fish farming itself is highly problematic in terms of sustainability and fish welfare, citing some high profile critics of the salmon farming sector by way of evidence. The film-makers also quote anti-farming activist Don Staniford’s assertion that farmed salmon would be grey if an artificial dye was not added to their feed. Among the specific criticisms of aquaculture are, first, that it represents “wild fishing in disguise” because more bait fish are caught for fish feed than the amount of farmed fish produced, and also that the level of mortalities is


UK News.indd 6

unacceptably high and fish are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions. Dr Iain Berrill of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said: “While this film raises some very important issues, the claims made against salmon farming in Scotland are wrong, misleading and inaccurate. As a result, this part of the documentary was simply privileged activism masquerading as investigatory film-making.” “To take just a few of these exaggerated and emotive claims - salmon farming is not responsible for degrading wild fish stocks for use in feed, lice on our fish are not out of control and claims equating organic waste from salmon farms to human waste are misleading and have been repeatedly debunked. Farmed Scottish salmon swim and shoal freely in high-quality, cool seawater that is constantly being refreshed by tides and currents. “Aquaculture is a key part of the answer, not the problem, with regards to concerns over wild fish stocks. The United Nations has recognised this fact which is why it supports fish farming as crucial to feeding the world’s growing population, now and in the future.” The film claims that 50% per cent of salmon are dying “from egg to plate and from hatch to

catch” and showed graphic images of dead fish in bins. In fact, Dr Berrill says, the mortality rate for Scottish salmon in 2020 was 14.5%. He commented: “The salmon farming sector is unique in UK farming for openly publishing monthly data detailing mortality rates and other health challenges. When fish unfortunately do die they are kept in appropriate containers, prior to disposal in full adherence with regulations. “A single female salmon can produce 10,000 eggs on the very basis that the vast majority will not survive even the earliest stages – and up to 95% of salmon that do make it to sea might not survive long enough to breed. Our farmers have achieved a remarkable survival rate, but of course they’re always investing and innovating in fish health and welfare to increase that survivability.” On salmon colour, the SSPO points out that the feed provided to farmed fish contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid naturally found in algae and throughout the ocean food chain. This is the substance that gives farmed and wild salmon – and pink flamingos – their distinctive colouring. As an antioxidant, it is beneficial to the immune system for humans as well as fish. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which campaigns for sustainable fishing and certifies fishing operators with the “blue tick” symbol, also disputed the film’s allegation that certification is obtained simply by paying for it. The MSC said: “Contrary to what the film-makers say, certification is not an easy process, and some fisheries spend many years improving their practices in order to reach our standard. In fact, our analysis shows that the vast majority of fisheries that carry out pre-assessments against our criteria, do not meet these and need to make significant improvements to gain certification.” The MSC pointed out that, contrary to what was stated in the film, it is funded by charitable donations and by retailers and others licensing the “blue tick”, not by the fishing operators themselves who are audited by independent third parties, not directly by the MSC.

12/04/2021 16:31:30

All the latest industry news from the UK

New support vessel for Organic Sea Harvest DAMEN Shipyards Group has delivered the first of a new generation of aquaculture support vessels to independent Scottish farmer Organic Sea Harvest.The Landing Utility Vessel (LUV) 1908 has more deck space, higher freeboard and a larger crane than earlier models in the series. Like Damen’s previous LUV vessels, the 1908 features a bow ramp giving it RO-RO (roll on-roll off) capability anywhere. Its tasks will include transportation of people, equipment, feed and other dry cargo to offshore fish-farming locations with

loading and unloading taking place either by RO-RO direct to the shore or by using the deck crane. On-site, the vessel can also be used to support activities of all kinds including pen maintenance and net cleaning. The LUV 1908 is 19 metres in length and 7.5 metres across. In total, the vessel can carry 40 tonnes of cargo and also has day accommodation for up to eight people. The new vessel was built with Damen’s support at Coastal Workboats Scotland in the UK, and will serve Organic Sea Harvest’s farms on Skye.

Above: Damen’s Landing Utility Vessel 1908

More support for Northern Irish aquaculture

Above: Edwin Poots

NORTHERN Ireland’s aquaculture sector is to receive a further financial support package of up to £325,000 to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA announced the package, which brings the total amount of funding provided by the Department for the sector to £685,000. Funding will be in the form of a grant payment, covering the four month period from 1 September to 31 December

2020 and will be based on a percentage of the income lost from the sales of aquaculture products due to Covid-19, using average income over the past three years as a baseline. The Scheme will be delivered under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-20, co-funded by the NI Executive and the European Union. There are approximately 28 active aquaculture producers in Northern Ireland, and the sector, worth around £11m annually, employs around 130 people.



UK News.indd 7


12/04/2021 16:32:15

United Kingdom News

Bespoke delousing vessel puts fish welfare first A new multi-purpose service vessel has been delivered to Scottish Sea Farms, and the company says it has been designed with fish welfare as its top priority. The Kallista Helen, launched in Glasgow in March, will be fitted with a state of the art thermolicer system. The 26-metre vessel was built by Ferguson Marine, based in Port Glasgow and designed by Macduff Ship Design in partnership with

Inverlussa and Scottish Sea Farms. The Kallista Helen is on long-term lease to Scottish Sea Farms from Mull-based Inverlussa Marine Services and will be used for lice treatment among other functions, allowing earlier intervention. Ben Wilson, Managing Director of Inverlussa, said the Kallista Helen, named after his niece, was built with fish health and welfare front of mind: “From the outset, Scottish Sea Farms was looking

to minimise fish handling and maximise fish welfare, designing the boat around those. The result is so much better when you start with the fish then consider the boat, rather than the other way round.” The Thermolicer itself was designed and engineered by ScaleAQ in Norway in partnership with ScaleAQ UK. It features a simpler, straighter pipe layout creating a gentler experience for the fish; a wider than standard pipe of 600mm diameter to ensure a smoother journey through the system; increased capacity of up to 120 tonnes per hour; and a 150-micron filtration to separate and collect the dislodged sea lice for removal. The Kallista Helen is expected to arrive in Shetland in early May.

Left: Ferguson’s Kallista Helen

Mowi brand lands on Sainsbury’s shelves THE Mowi consumer salmon brand has moved into the UK retail sector for the first time – and with Scottish fish. The world’s largest salmon farmer has started selling three products through Sainsbury’s which owns 600 supermarkets and 800 convenience stores. The products are Smoked Scottish Salmon Slices (rsp – retail sale price – £5/100g), piri piri-flavoured Slow Roast Salmon Fillets (rsp £5/180g) and Scottish Salmon Fillets (rsp £4.50/230g). Mowi said the move brings a new dimension to the fresh salmon chillers


UK News.indd 8

in UK supermarkets offering “delicious product range that has been described as stand-out”. James Cowan, Head of Sales for Mowi Consumer Products said: “We are investing in Mowi to play a dynamic role, inspiring new consumers to eat salmon on new occasions and to inform consumers that not all salmon are equal. “Mowi salmon is high in Omega-3, and fresher than fresh for taste. Retailers who support the Mowi brand will inevitably benefit from a halo of the brand driving traffic to stores.”

SSPO calls for urgent reform of export red tape

SCOTLAND’S salmon farmers are spending £200,000 each month on extra paperwork following the end of the Brexit transition period. So says the Scottish Salmon Producers Association which is calling for urgent reform of the export health certificates regime to cut down on red tape. Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said there was an urgent need for the Export Health Certificate (EHC) to be redesigned. Scottish salmon producers have had to cope with significant delays since the transition period ended on January 1 and the full effect of Brexit came into force. The SSPO said that despite improvements since January when it was taking many hours – and sometimes days – to process orders of seafood for the continent, orders are still being held up because of the bureaucracy of the extra paperwork. It now takes about two hours for each seafood load to be processed and given an export health certificate for transport to the EU and, in some case, this process is taking four hours or longer. These delays mean salmon is not arriving in France on time, leading to lost orders, discounted sales and disgruntled customers, the industry says. One of the biggest problems with the certificate, according to the SSPO, is that numerous boxes have to be crossed out by certifying officers, scoring out all products which the supplier is not exporting to the EU.This often leads to confusion and mistakes, causing delays both in the UK and at the EU border posts. Tavish Scott has asked the UK Government to look into this issue as a matter of urgency and he raised the issue personally with Michael Gove, the UK Government’s Brexit Cabinet minister, on a recent call. Scott said he had received a verbal assurance from Gove that the UK Government would look to redesign, redraw and simplify the export certificate, which can run to dozens of pages for each order.

12/04/2021 16:33:48

All the latest industry news from the UK

RSPCA Assured reinstates certification for salmon farms “Following a thorough investigation, ANIMAL welfare organisation RSPCA which included visits to the farms by Assured has reinstated certification for the specially trained staff and a detailed review five leading Scottish salmon farms whose of the footage, we were unable to find practices were criticised in a report from any evidence to support the allegations Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). made.As such, we have today lifted their The reinstatement follows special suspension from RSPCA Assured. inspections by RSPCA Assured. CIWF’s “Any complaints of poor welfare, report Underwater Cages, Parasites & Dead or breaches of the RSPCA Assured Fish, published in March this year, alleged Above: One of CIWF’s grim images membership agreement, are not tolerated poor welfare practices on the part of and we always take them very seriously.We would always urge Scotland’s biggest salmon farmers and was accompanied by graphic images of dead or injured fish obtained by activists working anyone with any concerns about an animal to contact us straight away, without delay.This is so that we can immediately investigate, with CIWF. visit the farm and address any welfare issues as a priority.” Farms belonging to Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms,The Scottish Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Salmon Company, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Grieg Seafood Organisation (SSPO) said:“Each of the Scottish salmon farms Shetland were criticised in the report. On behalf of the industry, subjected to unfounded allegations of welfare breaches by the the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation described the campaigning group CIWF have been thoroughly investigated and allegations as groundless and said it would welcome unannounced given unequivocal bills of clean health.All sites were physically inspections to prove that standards at Scottish farms are high. visited and inspected by RSPCA Assured auditors, in addition to Following the publication of the CIWF report, RSPCA Assured extensive reviews of the information initially received. No evidence suspended its certification for the farms concerned and instituted was found to support the claims made by anti-fish farm activists a programme of additional inspections.The organisation has now and RSPCA Assured certification for the sites has been reinstated reinstated certification for all the farms concerned. with immediate effect.” In a statement, RSPCA Assured said:“We were really shocked Scott added:“Our farmers maintain exemplary standards of fish and upset by some of this footage taken last year, especially as health and welfare which is why we were adamant that there was some of the farms were reported to be RSPCA Assured certified. no substance to any of these distorted and exaggerated claims. We immediately launched an investigation, as soon as we received We respect the role that RSCPA Assured plays in keeping our details of the farms on 23 March 2021, and suspended those sites standards high with their unannounced inspections, with auditors in the video that were members of RSPCA Assured, pending welcome on any farm, at any time.” investigation.

Grieg values Shetland assets at £125m GRIEG Seafood has placed a total net asset value on its ‘for sale’ Shetland business at 1,481 million kroner – or £125m. The figure is published in the company’s 2020 annual report. Grieg said it still intends to sell the operation and expects to complete the process this year, although it did not disclose whether it was currently in meaningful negotiations. The biological assets are valued at NOK 449.8m (£38m) and the property and plant at almost NOK 720m (£61m). Intangible and deferred tax assets etc make up most of the remainder.

It has appointed DNB Markets and Nordea Markets to advise on a “potential divestment of the Shetland assets”, which are no longer shown as part of the group’s main accounts.The future focus will now be on its fish farming operations in Norway and Canada. Grieg Seafood Shetland harvested 15,705 tonnes last year, against 11,273 tonnes in 2019.The Shetland operation made a net loss (for the period from discontinued operations in 2020) of NOK 231.5m (£19.5m) compared to a profit of NOK 18.9m (£1.6m) in 2019.



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12/04/2021 16:34:32

United Kingdom News

AquaLeap shortlisted in Knowledge Exchange Awards

Above: The AquaLeap team at the Roslin Institute (2019)

A collaborative project between genetics experts and the fish farming industry has been shortlisted for the sixth Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. The Aquaculture Genetics Alliance brought together the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, University of Stirling, Hendrix Genetics, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science to find key genetic markers for disease resistance, to identify and breed salmon with resistance

to viral disease, and to tackle other diseases of salmon and aquaculture species. Set up in February 2019, the £1.7m AquaLeap initiative focuses on four key species that have substantial economic and environmental importance for the UK - the European lobster, European flat oyster, lumpfish and Atlantic salmon. Researchers have been working closely with industry partners to identify sustainable solutions to current challenges facing aquaculture

production, including significant diseases. The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards recognise the benefits of collaboration between businesses and academics in Scotland. The programme is organised by Interface, which connects businesses from all sectors with Scotland’s universities, research institutes and colleges. All the winners will be announced online at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards Ceremony which takes place on 21 April.

Stephen Divers takes up non-exec role at Gael Force complete the shareholding as part STEPHEN Divers is set to move of the acquisition deal. That into a non-executive director option to complete has now position on the board of been exercised. aquaculture technology and Divers will retire from services group Gael Force, day-to-day management at as he prepares to retire Gael Force Fusion in April, from his management role maintaining his directorship at the company at the end at Group board level before of June. moving into a non-execuDivers is stepping down tive Group Director role from his role as Group ExAbove: Stephen Divers at the end of June. port Director. An industry Gael Force Group’s founder and manveteran, he played a major role in buildaging director, Stewart Graham, said: ing fish farm pen manufacturer, Fusion “We are delighted to be able to secure Marine – now known as Gael Force Stephen’s continued contribution to Fusion – for almost three decades, the Group. His knowledge and expealongside former colleague and direcrience built up over 30years has been tor Iain Forbes who retired in 2020. a huge contribution to aquaculture in Gael Force Group acquired a 75% Scotland and to the Gael Force Group majority shareholding in Fusion Marine in 2018 with planned options in place to as it is today.”


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Shellfish industry threatens legal action over Brexit BRITAIN’S shellfish producers are threatening legal action against the Westminster government, claiming they have been misled over post-Brexit arrangements with the EU. The shellfish industry, which includes aquaculture and fisheries businesses, has suffered more than most other seafood sectors since the transition period ended on 31 December because live mussels, cockles, oysters and other molluscs are no longer allowed to enter the EU unless they are from waters with the highest purity rating. A solicitor representing 20 shellfish firms told The Guardian newspaper that the government had shown “negligence and maladministration” and that a group action was being considered for compensation. Separately, an exporter of mussels sent a legal letter to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, saying the firm will sue for “substantial damages” if the shellfish market with the EU is not opened up by September, the paper reported. George Eustice, officials and other ministers have claimed the bloc originally planned to let this trade resume after Brexit and that it altered its position earlier this year. Brussels has consistently denied the British government’s claims and said the rules for third countries such as the UK are clear and longstanding. Andrew Oliver, a partner at Humber-based Andrew Jackson LLP, said he was representing 20 shellfish firms considering possible legal action against the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: “We are taking a leading counsel’s opinion as to the government’s actions in regard to the EU trade agreement and the assurances given by the government... we feel that there has been negligence and maladministration regarding the government’s negotiations on the agreement and its treatment of our clients.”

Above: Oysters on ice

12/04/2021 16:36:47

All the latest industry news from the UK

First students complete NAFC Aquaculture Management course EIGHT students from across the UK and France will be the first to receive CPD qualifications in Aquaculture Management after completing the NAFC Marine Centre UHI’s new Aquaculture Management CPD course. The fully online continuous professional development course, launched in 2020, is aimed at experienced aquaculture staff and other persons seeking a qualification in aquaculture management. The first students to complete

the programme were based in Scotland, England and France and included staff working in salmon farming and marine hatcheries as well as private individuals. “All of the students have worked extremely hard over the past year and all passed to an excellent standard,” said Stuart Fitzsimmons, NAFC’s section leader for aquaculture training. “While the COVID epidemic has posed significant challenges for both our students

and our staff, the fact that this course was designed to be fully online meant that its delivery was largely unaffected. Online delivery has also allowed students from a wide geographical area to complete the training at times that suited them and without having to leave their homes or jobs.” NAFC said the Aquaculture Management CPD has been designed to be relevant to a wide range of different types of aquaculture anywhere in the world, including marine and freshwater species, as well as hatchery and offshore facilities.

Left: The NAFC

Anne Anderson joins Scottish Sea Farms Director Jim Gallagher SCOTTISH Sea Farms said:“The time feels has announced the apright to bring in our pointment of a new, very own sustainadedicated Head of bility champion to Sustainability & Decoordinate the many velopment to spearworthwhile activities head the company’s already underway, drive to minimise its Above: Anne Anderson identify where else environmental imwe could be making a pact and maximise its social and economic value to real and positive difference, and accelerate the collective results. Scotland. “Anne has worked tirelessly Anne Anderson, former over recent years to introduce Chief Officer of Compliance & a sector-wide sustainability Beyond at the Scottish Envicharter and establish the need ronment Protection Agency for a fit for purpose regulatory (SEPA) and most recently regime, making her our go-to Sustainability Director at the candidate for this strategic new Scottish Salmon Producers role. I’m hugely excited to see Organisation (SSPO), took up what we deliver together.” the newly created role on 29 Commenting on the move, March. Anderson said:“After two nonSustainable development will stop years at the SSPO, during be a key focus, with Anderson which I achieved what I set out working to evaluate, enhance to do – namely, help the sector and advance the company’s identify what would be required social, economic and environfor it to develop and grow mental contribution, helping sustainably – I’m ready to roll lay solid foundations for further up my sleeves and help deliver growth. those advances.” Scottish Sea Farms’ Managing

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12/04/2021 16:37:31

European News


$10k Aquaculture scholarship aimed at women

Above: Alf-Gøran Knutsen: making two scholarships available for women in aquaculture

ONE of Norway’s internationally lesser known, but highly progressive salmon companies is about to begin accepting applications for its second annual Women In Aquaculture Scholarship. Kvarøy Arctic, based on a postcard-pretty island near the Arctic Circle, started the scholarship programme last year because it recognises that it can be quite difficult for women to break into farm level aquaculture operations around the world. The company is renowned for innovation, managing to double the omega-3 content over other farmed salmon, an achievement which has been certified by the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check programme. It also uses no antibiotics or chemicals in its production cycle. Kvarøy CEO Alf-Gøran Knutsen, said: “The pandemic delayed our plans for last year’s recipients to join us on the farm but not our dedication to supporting them in their career development and to continuing this program.” The scholarship is hosted in partnership with SAGE with (Seafood and Gender Equality), a non-profit initiative founded by former Fair Trade USA director Julie Kuchepatov with a mission to build a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive seafood industry and sustainable seafood movement. Two scholarships are available this year with one dedicated to an applicant from any country globally and a second designated for


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applicants from countries in Africa. The recipients will each be awarded a US $10,000 scholarship and a paid, one-month summer internship on the Kvarøy Arctic farm site in Norway. Recipients are welcomed to continue their internship each year they are in school, and will be considered for employment upon graduation. According to a UN study, it is expected that by 2050, “half of the world’s population growth will occur in Africa.” “Aquaculture is a burgeoning industry in this part of the world,” says Kvarøy Arctic Strategic Development Officer Jennifer Bushman. “It’s within the Kvarøy Arctic value system to take a collaborative approach to advancing aquaculture and we’ve chosen to dedicate one of our scholarships to African women who are permanent residents on the continent and who are committed to supporting that region’s development in one of the most efficient and nutritious animal protein sources available.” The inaugural programme hosted with the James Beard Foundation received a swell of applications motivating Kvarøy Arctic to go beyond its plan to award one scholarship. The result was Kvarøy Arctic awarding scholarships to three women in 2020, from Tunisia, South Africa, and the United States. Applications and a full list of qualifying criteria will be available via the Kvarøy Arctic website ( from April 13, 2021.

Nordic Halibut in U-turn over share issue NORDIC Halibut sprung a big surprise last month by announcing that it was cancelling plans to list on Oslo’s Euronext Growth – less than a week after unveiling the proposal. The Norwegian halibut farmer told investors and the Exchange that the planned issue would not go ahead because of “unfavourable conditions”. Nordic Halibut CEO Edvard Henden said:“I am of course disappointed that we have not received the right signals from the market, but see that the influx of new companies on Euronext Growth has created a situation that does not allow us to list this spring.” The company had hoped to raise up to 270 million kroner (£23m), saying the net proceeds from the transaction would have been used, subject to availability of debt financing, to fund the company’s growth plan. This includes a new land-based facility for broodstock, juvenile and on-growth, the expansion of its sea operations at Edie and the establishment of VAP (value-added production) capabilities, as well as for general corporate purposes. Despite the cancellation, the company said it will continue to develop its farming activity, including a new fry and hatchery and further processing locally on Averøy in Møre og Romsdal. Henden added:“These plans are fixed.We have a unique breeding programme, space and opportunity to produce halibut in a much larger volume than we do today to be able to deliver what the market demands at any time.” Founded in 1995, Nordic Halibut is a prime mover in the growing halibut farming industry with licences to produce 4,500 tonnes a year.

Above: Edvard Henden

12/04/2021 16:19:45

All the latest industry news from Europe

Severinsen joins Sensor Globe team

Above: Trond Severinsen

A former AKVA Group executive has teamed up with Canadian firm Sedna Technologies to promote and develop an innovative water monitoring device for the aquaculture sector. Trond Severinsen – formerly Senior Vice President,Technology & Development with AKVA – will, as Sedna’s Norwegian partner, lead the commercialisation of Sedna’s Sensor Globe, a wireless multi-functional sensor the size of a small grapefruit. Sensor Globe enables aquaculture operators to monitor real time data through an app

on a smartphone, tablet or via the Internet, or alternatively to log data autonomously over a period of time. The device was originally designed, by founders Sheamus MacDonald and Aleksandr Stabenow, to monitor water quality and animal welfare for the live lobster fishing industry on Canada’s East Coast. Its internal ballast is adjustable, so that it can float like a small iceberg, sink or operate with neutral buoyancy. It measures only 95mm diameter, weighs 325 grams and is designed to

“flow-with-the-fish” through pipes, hoses, fish pumps, lice treatment and other machinery. This means it will be able to measure both water quality and physical impact on the fish (acceleration and shock). Trond Severinsen said:“I am very excited to work with such young and talented entrepreneurs in Canada, to offer my lifelong experience in the aquaculture technology industry and together grow the company, work on R&D, and set up a global sales and service network.”

Conditional approval for oil rig farm plan A plan to convert a conventional offshore drilling platform into a fish farm has been given conditional approval by Norway’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. The project – known as the Octopus Concept – is the brainchild of Stavanger-based offshore services company Roxel Aqua and involves a modified jack-up rig fitted with between 12 to 14 cages for breeding salmon and trout. The cages encircle the rig and can be pulled down below the sea surface using specially designed winches. The Directorate of Fisheries had originally rejected the application. Roxel Aqua now has until September to fulfil the new conditions in the ministry’s decision. If they fail to do so, the Fisheries Directorate will assess whether the application fulfils other conditions for obtaining development permits.

Above: Roxel Aqua

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12/04/2021 16:20:31

European News

Hauge’s ‘egg’ prepares to hatch HAUGE Aqua Solutions has embarked on the construction of the first of its futuristic enclosed fish farm projects, known as the Egget. It has awarded the contract to another Norwegian company, Herde Kompositt, which will build the 21-metre high egg-shaped fibre-glass unit. The Egget is the latest in a series of unusually shaped Above The Egget salmon farm facilities from Norway that might look more at home in outer space than anchored off a fjord. It is designed to help solve some of the problems associated with salmon farming, such as lice, escapes and pollution. The Egget project was initially a collaboration with Mowi

(formerly Marine Harvest), but in February Hauge announced its intention to go it alone after apparently becoming frustrated with the pace of progress. Mowi is continuing to invest on other closed containment systems. Kim Røssland, general manager and one of Herde Kompositt’s four partners, said: “We look forward to contributing to this major

innovative project that will be able to contribute to a more sustainable aquaculture industry.” Hauge Aqua has also taken over the operation of a lifeboat factory in Norway for the project. The company said current production platforms, based on the open pen system, were too weak to sustain significant growth and achieve environmental performance. The shape of the new robust and enclosed tank is that of an egg, built as a composite sandwich. The shape provides a complete double curved surface. Ninety percent of the tank is submerged and not visible during operation, while 10% is above the water and filled with ventilated air..

Bakkafrost reports year on year rise in output for Q1 FaRoEsE salmon farmer Bakkafrost is forecasting a 17% higher total harvest for the first three months of this year. In a Q1 trading update, the group said output for both the Faroe Islands and scotland will reach 21,000 tonnes, compared to 18,000 tonnes over the same period last year.The increase in production was seen in the Faroes, while scotland saw a slight fall in volume. The total, heads on gutted, is made up of: Faroe Islands Farming North 11,400 tonnes (2020: 6,300 tonnes); Farming West 2,500 tonnes (2020: 2,800 tonnes); Farming south 100 tonnes (2020: 1,600 tonnes) and Farming scotland 7,000 tonnes (2020: 7,300 tonnes). Feed sales in Q1 2021 were 23,800 tonnes (19,100 tonnes). Havsbrún sourced 48.5 thousand tonnes of raw materials in Q1 2021. The main reason for the large increase at Faroe Farming North this year is that in February 2020

the area was battered by some of the worst storms seen on the islands for many years, which affected output.They lasted for at least four days and took a heavy toll on fish farming operations, leading to the loss of around a million small fish

and harvest volumes being 10% lower. The full Q1 2021 report from Bakkafrost will be published on 11 May.  See Bakkafrost feature, page 30

Benchmark signs up first customers for CleanTreat ANIMAL health and breeding group Benchmark has signed up the first customers for its ground-breaking CleanTreat water purification system. CleanTreat will be used in combination with the company’s new sea lice treatment, BMK08, to treat farmed fish. The announcement was made in a London Stock Exchange update by the group’s parent, Benchmark Holdings plc.


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CleanTreat is a closed water purification system which captures the medicine from the water when fish are being treated. It therefore prevents medicines from being discharged into the ocean, addressing a serious environmental concern. The system also catches sea lice and strings of lice eggs captured during treatment, Benchmark CEO Trond Williksen said: “I am very pleased to be signing our first customer agreements for Benchmark’s transformational solution. Our solution addresses the biggest challenge facing the salmon industry today in a sustainable way both in terms of animal welfare as well as environmental impact. “BMK08 and CleanTreat are testament to Benchmark’s commitment to its mission of driving sustainability in aquaculture.”

12/04/2021 16:22:36

All the latest industry news from Europe

Mowi promotes Diez-Padrisa to health role since February MOWI Scot2020 and has land’s Producoverseen signiftion Director, icant biological Meritxell improvements in Diez-Padrisa, farming during is to take up this period. a new role as Mowi said the the company’s company seeks Fish Health to benefit from Director as her expertise in from May. the other farming Stepping into regions, alongher position side continued as Production improvements to Director is Above Meritxell Diez-Padrisa its operations in Roar PaulsScotland. en, currently Roar Paulsen will be based in Production Director for Lerøy Fort William, Scotland. He will be Midt AS. responsible for all farming activiIn her new position, Diez-Paties. Sean Anderson will continue drisa will oversee fish health to deputise for the Production programmes in all regions for the Director and oversee Marine company. A veterinarian and fish Operations, and he will also take health expert, she has been Production Director at Mowi Scotland responsibility for Purchasing.

Sande Settefisk signs RAS farm deal INVESTMENT in land based salmon farming continued apace this week with another company announcing large scale investment in a new project. Sande Settefisk has signed a deal with water treatment specialists Sterner AS to build a new RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) facility in Gloppen, in the south-west of Norway. Construction should start soon, with the new facility expected to be ready by the summer of 2022. The investment figure is around 250 million kroner – or just over £20m. A company press release said the project will include a production plant for post-smolt. This investment will allow annual output to increase from one million to five million smolts. The Gloppen site will produce

both salmon and rainbow trout for delivery to Nordjord Laks and Svanøy Havbruk, which together with Hyen Fisk, are the owners of Sande Settefisk. Sande Settefisk chairman Svein Klaevold said they chose Sterner because of the company’s reputation in this field. He said: “They have over 30 years’ experience in clean water technology, their unique professionalism and very good components that make them leaders in this market.” Sterner general manager Bjarne E. Pettersen said he was very pleased that such trust had been placed in his company. He added: “This plant will be incredibly cost effective and, based on experience with similar plants, we expect very good production results.”

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Image: The new RAS facility

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12/04/2021 16:23:18

European News

Record March for Norwegian salmon exports NORWEGIAN seafood exports hit record high volumes last month, with farmed salmon once again out in front. After a slightly disappointing January and February, overseas sales of fish of all types increased by 13.5% to NOK 10.9bn (£940m) in March. Seafood and Fisheries Minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen declared: “Despite the fact that the corona pandemic continues to affect the seafood markets, it is gratifying that the export value of Norwegian seafood has never seen a stronger March than this year. “Our seafood is sought after all over the world, and behind the numbers is an adaptable industry with good people at all levels.” The country’s salmon farmers exported 108,200 tonnes of fish in March worth NOK 7.2bn (£617m). Volumes were up by 28% which led to a 22% or NOK 1.3bn (£110m) increase in value. Salmon exports during the first three months of this year rose by 18 per cent to 297,200 tonnes and were worth NOK 18bn (£1.54bn), an overall decline of 4%. Norwegian Seafood Council

Above: Norwegian salmon

analyst Paul T. Aandahl said: “The value of salmon exports in March was the highest recorded in a single month, which is primarily due to record high volumes. “Despite the fact that the Norwegian krone has strengthened against the main currencies the euro and the US dollar, the average price in March was only one per cent lower than in the same month last year.” He said Asia was now the

strongest growing market. Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said a weak Norwegian kroner had helped to keep export values up in 2020. But exports have not had that traction this year since the kroner has now strengthened. “Although Norwegian seafood has become more expensive for buyers outside Norway, there have been large volumes and a relatively strong demand for products of salmon, herring and king crab in the first quarter, “

she added. However, March was not such a good month for the farmed trout sector with volumes down by 11% to 4,500 tonnes and value down by 5% to NOK 300m (£2.5m). Fresh cod exports last month shot up by 76% to 14,300 tones and by 37 per cent in value to NOK 490m (£42m). Frozen cod exports in March rose by 22% to almost 12,000 tonnes and the value was up by 3% to NOK 464m (£39m).

Cargo ship and workboat saved from storm

Above: Rescue helicopter Florø / Hovedredningssentralen Sør-Norge / NTB

SALVAGE teams have successfully taken in tow a £5m aquaculture support boat and the stricken Dutch cargo ship it came off in a storm. The AQS Tor boat fell from the cargo deck during severe storms off


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the Norwegian coast early Tuesday, 6 March. The crew were forced to abandon ship amid 45 to 50 ft high waves and the weather was so bad at one point there were fears it might be lost. What made a successful rescue all the more urgent was the news that the Eemslift Hendrika was carrying a total of four support vessels of varying size, worth NOK 150m (£13m). They were being delivered by Moen Marin, the world’s largest supplier of workboats to the aquaculture sector. The cargo ship was also carrying 300 tonnes of heavy oil which could have posed a threat to the environment and coastal fish stocks. After a day of high drama, the Eemslift Hendrika itself was taken in tow after a team from the Dutch company Smit Salvage were landed on deck by helicopter. Another salvage company, Stadt Sjøtransport, had earlier been brought in to rescue the support vessel AQS Tor being delivered to the fishing and fish farming support company AQS. The vessel was drifting helplessly near the Eemslift Hendrika. The AQS Tor was taken to the port of Florø, about 120 km north of Bergen. AQS said that the boat seems to be in fairly good condition AQS also said it was pleased at the success of the operation, adding the AQS Tor had demonstrated its seaworthiness and should soon be carrying out the job it was designed for. The company stressed the main priority throughout was to protect the environment and the safety of those involved in the salvage operations.

12/04/2021 16:24:37

All the latest industry news from Europe

European Commission aims to encourage organic aquaculture THE European Commission has placed aquaculture at the heart of its plan to significantly increase organic food production. It has prepared an action plan in line with its European Green Deal and tied in with agriculture through its “Farm To Fork” and Biodiversity Strategy. The Commission says it wants to encourage member states to include increased organic aquaculture in their reviewed Multi-annual National Strategic plans for fish farming. It is a strategy which could help countries like Ireland where much of its salmon is organically produced. “Organic aquaculture can help meet consumer demand for diversified high quality food produced in a way that respects the environment and ensures animal welfare,” says the Commission, adding that farming can also help ease pressure on wild fish stocks. The new guidelines on the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, expected to be adopted by the Commission this spring, will encourage member states and stakeholders to support the

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increase in organic production. Beginning next year, the Commission intends to:  support research and innovation on alternative sources of nutrients, breeding and animal welfare in aquaculture; the promotion of investments on adapted polyculture and multi-trophic aquaculture systems; and the promotion of hatcheries and nurseries activities for organic juveniles; and  identify and address as appropriate any specific obstacles to the growth of EU organic aquaculture Its report concludes: “A sustainable and resilient agricultural and aquaculture sector depends on enhanced biodiversity, which is fundamental for a healthy ecosystem and critical for maintaining nutrients cycles in the soil, clean water and pollinators. Increased biodiversity allows farmers to adapt better to climate change. “The organic sector is by its very nature oriented towards higher environmental standards, enshrined in its objectives and principles.”

Fish farmers lose ‘traffic light’ case

Above A Norwegian salmon farm

A group of 25 Norwegian salmon and trout farming companies have lost their challenge against the country’s “traffic light” system which regulates growth within the industry. They face a sizeable legal bill into the bargain. The companies, mostly based in the south west of Norway, took their case to a district court in Bergen at the end of January. Their region – designated as production area 4 or PO 4 – had been placed into a “red zone” which prevented future expansion. It also demanded a reduction in existing activity of six per cent, totalling up to 12,000 tonnes of fish. The cost to the farmers in financial terms was estimated during the case to be more than NOK 420m (£35m) a year. The group argued that they were not only being robbed of their livelihood, but the decision would hit local communities who depend on aquaculture for jobs. The system sees the Norwegian coastline divided into several colour coded production zones, consisting of green, where aqua-

culture expansion can take place virtually unhindered, amber or orange, where limited expansion is allowed and red where fish farming activity must be reduced. The Oslo government’s case was that the scheme is part of a wider strategy to reduce salmon lice and protect wild fish stocks. In a verdict delivered by the court on 17 March, the farmers lost their main arguments: first that the move was an abuse of power, that it lacked legal authority, and second that it represented a violation of European human rights. The farmers had also claimed the government case contained factual errors. The court said the imposition of a red light zone did not signal a permanent ban on growth in PO 4, suggesting that the situation could change if the environmental situation improves. The fish farmers are clearly disappointed by the decision and are likely to launch an appeal. Meanwhile, they have been ordered to pay government legal costs of more than 1,700,000 kroner (£150,000).


12/04/2021 16:25:20

European News

Norwegian ministry looks to streamline regulations NORWAY’S Seafood and Fisheries Minister has recruited a small team of fish farming industry experts to help him get rid of outdated regulations. Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen wants to simplify many of the rules which govern the sector and replace them with legislation more in line with the needs of the future. Instead of turning to civil servants, he has invited five executives from various branches of the commercial industry to help him. Ingebrigtsen said: “I have on a number of occasions received input [from the Above Line Ellingsen sector] on what changes arrangements for increased value creation, and and simplifications governing more jobs along the entire coast.” regulations that affect the aquaculture industry The working group, which has been given a are needed. brief to iron out ambiguities and come up with “We must try to remove as many unnecessary ideas that avoid areas of potential conflict, is obstacles as possible for both the large and scheduled to have its recommendations ready by small players so that we can provide even better

1 June this year. However, they can only change those regulations which come under the remit of the Fisheries and Seafood Minister. The Minister said he hopes the working group will not only simplify some of the rules, but will drop those they feel are outdated or unnecessarily bureaucratic. He added: “At the same time we must ensure we still have good control where that is necessary.” The Minister’s working group consists of industry operators and advisers: Line Ellingsen of Ellingsen Seafood; Fredd Wilsgård of Wilsgård fish farming; Jim Roger Nordly of the aquaculture support company STIM; Liv Marit Aarseth of Grieg Seafood; and Harald Ellefsen of the Norwegian legal firm SANDS, which includes aquaculture among its areas of expertise.

Fish health predictor shows high accuracy level accessible for all farmers with user-friendly software.” Manolin was founded in 2018 and is based in Bergen, Norway and Denver in the USA. Its machine learning models are powered by millions of data points including live disease outbreak reports, oceanographic forecasts, marine sensors, boat traffic, marine activity across all 600 active farms, and more than two decades of historical data. Tore Holand, board member in several Norwegian farm companies, says, “It’s important for the industry to continue to raise its standards. Manolin has built a tool that doesn’t replace but works with farmers’ experience and expertise. With these types of insights, farmers can keep finding new ways to rethink their processes and improve. To be a part of the future, one needs to keep up with the technological advances.” Manolin’s customers in aquaculture include Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett, Lingalaks, Hofseth Aqua, and Firda Seafood. Manolin raised 8m NOK (£680,000) last year from Boost VC, Hatch AS, and Innovation Norway, and recently added to its fish health and engineering teams. The company is expanding its forecasting tools to include feeding, growth, and mortality models. Above John Costantino. Right: Manolin’s health forecasting tool

AN application that can help fish farmers to predict disease outbreaks has been found to have 93% accuracy or more. The developer, Manolin, has announced its results after a year tracking health challenges for salmon farmers across Norway. Manolin’s fish health forecasting tool was launched in February 2020. It uses machine learning to predict the early onset of PD (pancreas disease) and ISA (infectious salmon anaemia), based on a range of data inputs, and is the only commercially available disease forecasting tool for farmers in Norway. Manolin’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder John Costantino said: “This is a true breakthrough moment for our company and the industry as a whole. The last few months have been a culmination of many years of work—integrating numerous data silos, filling the gaps in industry data, expanding on academia’s disease research, and making it


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12/04/2021 16:27:18

6 STEPS TO FOLLOW TO SECURE YOUR ACCESS TO EU MARKETS ! Many companies in the UK fisheries industry are struggling to export to the EU since 1st January 2021. The new regulatory constraints that came into force are here to stay. But they are not insurmountable. Here are the main steps you need to take to ensure your fish, seafood and broader seafood products can continue to be exported to the Boulogne-sur-Mer market, and onto clients across Europe.




Obtain an export health certificate from a qualified certification officer at the earliest possible stage.

Paperwork: fill out a transit declaration in UK NCTS or in the French Transit system Delta T and a French import declaration in Delta G, register your goods onto the EU’s “TRACES NT” online system. It is important that the health certificate number is entered on the transit declaration. Finally, for line-caught fish, have the catch certificate issued by the authorities of the vessel’s flag.

Joined up: make sure you communicate with the importer who bought your fish, so you two are joined up and you both know who does what.


Transport: make sure fish are appropriately loaded onto trucks (especially if using groupage)




Off you go: make sure the truck with your products has a paper version of the export health certificate, and specify on your online declaration the expected time of arrival at Boulogne-sur-Mer (so local authorities know your goods are on their way). You need to ensure the driver knows he must answer “yes” to the question "fishing product?” in the pairing process: this is what will allow you to get a green light when arriving in Calais, and go directly to Boulogne.

Done: your fish can then make its way to the local fish-processing industry and then onto clients across Europe, who will be delighted to eat it!

By the way: if you want to facilitate your business operations in Europe (bonded and chilled warehouses, fish transformation, flow management…), why not set up a company in Hauts-de-France?

Nord France Invest is the investment promotion agency for Hauts-de-France (the French region which runs from the North of Paris to Calais and Dunkirk). We help you expand your business by optimising your presence in our region. Any questions? Get in touch at / 0033 (0)3 59 56 23 00

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12/04/2021 10:25:34

World News


Mowi plans faster growth, supported by technology MOWI, the world’s biggest salmon producer, is aiming to ramp up its volume growth over the next few years and the “new industrial revolution” is a key part of its strategy. That was the message from Mowi’s Chief Executive Ivan Vindheim, speaking at the company’s Capital Markets Day presentation. Vindheim said that Mowi’s strategy had “three pillars”: volume growth, cost and sustainability. While the company is a leader on cost and sustainability, he said, it has lagged behind the industry as a whole in terms of volume growth. He said: “To further strengthen the company’s position, Mowi’s strategic trajectory towards 2025 will be focused on four main objectives: Above: Ivan Vindheim growth throughout the value chain with particular focus on Mowi Farming, its Chilean operations are expected to see further cost savings across the group, organic annual growth between 3% and 4%. greater sustainability, and capitalising on Vindheim said: “Mowi Farming will also digitalisation and automation. pursue farming growth through accretive “All four objectives are of equal importance acquisitions when this fits with its operational and apply throughout our value chain.” strategy. The main focus in Mowi Farming Despite achieving record high volumes in has been and will continue to be conventional 2020, Mowi Farming’s volume growth has farming. been lagging behind the industry in the past “That said, we are monitoring developments few years. This is not satisfactory, Vindheim in alternative technologies closely and may said, and will duly be addressed through introduce such technologies when, and if, we various growth initiatives including increased find it timely and profitable.” investment in post-smolt. He also pledged that “smart farming” – Vindheim said: “With the right measures using technology to improve productivity, in place we believe Mowi Farming has automate feeding and enable remote the intrinsic potential to grow well beyond monitoring and control of farms – will be 500,000 tonnes organically, using existing rolled out through all the company’s sites in license capacity.” Norway by 2025. Investment in post-smolt production is There was a hint that Mowi could increase expected to create volume growth in Norway, production at its new Scottish feed factory which accounts for 60% of Mowi’s output, which was commissioned last year. from 2025. Ben Hadfield, COO for Scotland, Shareholders were told: “After Ireland and the Faroes said that we can commissioning the second feed mill in expect to see volume growth in Scotland as Kyleakin, Scotland in 2020 Mowi is now selffrom the current year, and Ireland is expected sufficient for feed in Europe. Feed is by far the to reverse the decline in volume that has most important cost component in farming. occurred over the past five years. The strategy from here is to grow Mowi Feed Mowi’s operations in Canada have been along with Mowi Farming.” affected by the Canadian government’s Mowi has unutilised capacity at its feed decision to close down salmon farming in the mill in Kyleakin, Scotland, and can add a new Discovery Islands region in British Columbia, production line at the feed mill in Bjugn, Norway so the company expects that production in if needed with limited capital expenditure. North America will remain static at best, but


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Vindheim said the “megatrends” driving salmon demand are stronger than ever and driven by health trends, a growing need for more low-carbon footprint diets, and salmon’s ability to appeal to the wider population as highly versatile and suitable for almost any eating occasion. Mowi expects the continued strong growth in demand for Atlantic salmon to exceed supply growth in the next five years. “Salmon is a scientifically proven natural superfood. It is also versatile and appeals to people of all ages with its highly appetising taste, look, texture and colour. In the coming years, I see countless opportunities for Mowi and we are working on many important initiatives that will further develop the company and bring it into the future,” he added. On sustainability Mowi has again been ranked the world’s most sustainable animal protein producer in the 2020 Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index. Atlantic salmon is also ranked the most sustainably produced animal protein. On cost, Vindheim said, Mowi is consistently the number one or number two performer among peers in the regions in which the company operates. However, he added, cost is still too high in absolute terms, particularly in some regions outside Norway. The cost variation between the regions is also too high. Thus, Vindheim said, Mowi Farming will continue unabated with its work to address cost initiatives going forward. In Sales & Marketing, Mowi said it will continue to develop new, innovative, high quality products that are easily accessible to its customers to keep pace with constantly evolving food habits. “We will also continue in our long-term quest to de-commoditise the salmon category through our MOWI branding strategy. At the same time we must acknowledge that salmon is still mainly sold as a commodity subject to fierce competition – particularly in Europe. Thus, it is key to be a cost leader in this part of the value chain too, in order to attain a reasonable profit on our sales”, the CEO stressed.

12/04/2021 16:13:37

All the latest industry news from around the world

Salmon Evolution commits first wave of funding for Kore

BioMar establishes Asia division

technology and we DETAILS have been see a huge economic published of Salmon and strategic potential Evolution’s deal in K Smart in the to build a largecoming years.” scale land-based The company said salmon farm in the first tranche South Korea.The of investment will Norwegian company be used for design has committed and engineering; its first tranche site evaluation and of investment this permits; acquisition month. of an existing and The facility, in Above: The South Korean land-based salmon farm operating smolt Gangwon province, venture with Dongwon in an facility in Jeongseon, will be run as a effective manner.After seeing of which closing has already joint venture – K Smart – the impressive magnitude of taken place; and general with Korean firm Dongwon Dongwon’s operations in South corporate purposes. Industries, which will own 51%. Finance for the joint venture Salmon Evolution’s equity stake Korea first-hand and witnessing the Korean authorities’ solid will be a mix of equity (25%) and is estimated at NOK 200m backing for the project on both debt (75%), with the latter being (£17m).The equity contribution a national and local level, we are facilitated at “attractive cost from both parties will be split confident that we have found levels” by Dongwon.The facility into three milestone-driven the perfect partner for our will have a total capacity of tranches, and Salmon Evolution international expansion into one 20,000 tonnes by live weight. expects to provide its first of the most interesting salmon Salmon Evolution is also tranche, of around NOK 30m markets globally.The natural building a production facility (£2.6m), this month. characteristics of the South at Indre Harøy, strategically Håkon André Berg, CEO of Korean coastline and water located on the Norwegian west Salmon Evolution said: “We temperature profile represent coast, which is currently under are very pleased with being an ideal fit for our HFS construction. able to formalise our joint

AQUAFEED multinational BioMar is setting up an Asia division to manage its operations in the region, including Vietnam and China.The new division will be headed by Francois Loubere as Vice President, Asia. The move follows BioMar’s acquisition, announced earlier last month, of a majority share in the shrimp feed business of Viet-Uc Seafood Corporation.Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest farmed shrimp producers and represents a major growth opportunity for BioMar, while China’s aquaculture market has also seen large-scale investment. Francois Loubere was previously BioMar’s VP West Med & Africa and has more than 30 years’ experience in the aquaculture industry. His former role will be taken up by Luis García Romero, Commercial Manager in the West Med & Africa division.

Above: Luis García Romero (L) and Francois Loubere

Skretting to open new shrimp feed factory in Vietnam INTERNATIONAL feed group Skretting has announced plans to construct a new factory in Vietnam this year.The new factory will supply the growing market in Vietnam and the broader southeast Asia region, with an annual capacity of 100,000 tonnes The new factory will be located next to Skretting Vietnam’s existing facilities in Thuan Dao Industrial Zone, Long An and represents an investment of €24m for the group. Skretting says the new factory will alleviate current demand on supply. Bui Thuy Tien, General Manager of Skretting Vietnam, said; “With a mission and commitment of bringing good solutions to farmers and contributing to the sustainable development of aquaculture in Vietnam, Skretting Vietnam is

dedicated to leveraging our global resources to offer a complete value proposition for our customers.” Skretting’s expansion into Vietnam began in 2010 through the acquisition of Tomboy Aquafeed JSC, a Vietnamese fish and shrimp feed company.The group’s latest shrimp feed factory opened in 2017. “This new factory in Vietnam is a logical and necessary step towards strengthening Skretting and Nutreco’s position as a global competitor in Asia,” said Therese Log Bergjord, Skretting CEO. “We have a very solid growth strategy, matched with the huge potential of the sector.We have activated an expert team to make sure we deliver, and I’m excited to see how we continue to grow in the coming years.”

The future of fish farming A first-class RAS feed and an optimal feeding strategy are fundamental to the performance of both your fish and filter.

Above: Skre�ng Vietnam

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12/04/2021 16:14:16

World News

AquaBounty optimistic despite Q4 loss Mowi Canada wins reprieve on selected Innovasea, a global leader salmon stocking for BC farms in advanced aquatic solutions for

NORTH American land-based salmon farmer AquaBounty Technologies has posted a US$6.1m loss for the final three months of 2020, close to double the figure for Q4 2019. Despite that, the company, which is pioneering the development of genetically modified (GM) salmon, says the outlook for this year was positive.AquaBounty has started customer feedback trials with its fish and says it is “optimistic”. Q4 Revenues – based on limited sales of non-GM salmon – totalled $50,197 against $46,367 a year ago. AquaBounty said it had fortified its balance sheet with $192.3m in gross proceeds from the closing of underwritten public offerings of common stock in December 2020 and February this year, providing the financing to fund the expected cost of Farm 3, its planned 10,000 metric ton farm. The company also said it had

aquaculture, as the recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology solutions provider for Farm 3. It has also appointed packaged food industry veteran Dr. Ricardo Alvarez to the company’s board of directors. Operating expenses were $6.1m, as compared to $3.5m in the same quarter for the previous year. The increase was primarily ascribed to an increase in production costs as the biomass of fish in the company’s farms grew from 161 metric tonnes to over 603 metric tonnes. In addition, the company recorded an inventory reserve of $1.5m related to non-GMO stock. “Net loss in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $6.1m, as compared to $3.4m in the same year-ago quarter.” CEO Sylvia Wulf also told investors: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on market demand required the company to address the inventory levels of the conventional salmon at our Indiana farm, which began to exceed capacity in December. “We needed to make room at the farm for our growing biomass of AquAdvantage salmon.As a result, we decided to harvest and begin donating our conventional salmon to local food charities.”

MOWI Canada has won an injunction in a Canadian Federal court that will potentially allow it to continue stocking farms in the Discovery Islands region, at least temporarily. In December, Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan ordered that all opennet fish farms in the Discovery islands, in British Columbia, will need to close by the end of June 2022 and also said that firms would not be allowed to restock the farm sites in the meantime. Mowi took the minister to court, arguing that the ban on transferring stock to two of its farms was unreasonable and would lead to job losses, and the unncessary culling of more than 12 million healthy fish - since

decision remains with the government. In January this year, Mowi Canada West, Cermaq, and Grieg the operators of other Discovery Island farms, filed an application in Federal Court seeking a ruling to overturn the Minister’s order of December 2020 altogether.

there would be nowhere to transfer them. The court has now granted an injunction that means the minister must consider Mowi’s request for transfer licences. Subject to veterinary approval, Mowi hopes the applications will be granted but the

Above: Bernadette Jordan

Russian Aquaculture sees volume up, profits down RUSSIA’S largest commercial fish farmer, Russian Aquaculture, has reported record sales volumes and a strengthened balance sheet for 2020, but profits are down on the previous year. Russian Aquaculture’s sales volume for 2020 was 15,510 tonnes, up 9% on 2019. Revenue, however, was down 5% to RUB 8,336m and operating profit was down 13% to RUB 3,302m, in what was a challenging year for salmon producers internationally. Adjusted EBITDA saw a decline of 2% to RUB 3,375.

Above: Russian Aquaculture farm, Murmansk


World News.indd 22

The company said it intended to pay dividends totalling 30-50% of net profit. 2020 saw the first dividend payments for 10 years. Russian Aquaculture also strengthened its balance sheet over the period, with three successful bond issues and a share buy-back programme, and current assets went up by 48% to RUB 12,555m. Capital and reserves were up 29% on 2019’s figure, to RUB 11,276m. The company invested in a number of assets including a barge, wellboat, nets, cages and a catamaran, and acquired two new sites at Pitkov Bay and Tyuva Bay. Chief Executive Officer Ilya Sosnov said: “The unprecedented nature of 2020 has shown everyone the importance of a sustainable and efficient business. We were able to continue our operations uninterrupted, without losing a single day of production. Despite a decline in the global salmon market amid the pandemic and challenging climatic conditions, we delivered strong operational and financial results and strengthened the company’s core fundamentals, paving the way for future growth. “Thanks to the systematic execution of our strategy, our stock continues to increase from year to year, and by the end of 2020 the value of our biological assets was at a record high. We are not stopping there, and are continuing to invest billions of roubles into developing our business. As a result of the option to increase our stake in our processing plant, the acquisition of two new high-quality fish farms, and the launch of our new Inarctica brand, we are closer to achieving our long-term goal of becoming the largest vertically integrated player in the aquaculture industry.”

12/04/2021 16:15:34

‘Technical’ incident setback for Atlantic Sapphire LAND-based producer Atlantic Sapphire looks set to lose up to 500 tonnes of salmon following technical problems at its plant near Miami, Florida.The losses represent 5% of of its expected initial harvest. The company said in a stock market announcement last month that the issue appeared to be in one of its RAS growth systems. While its preliminary analysis still had to be confirmed it is looking at the possibility that a “design weakness from its RAS [recirculating aquaculture system] supplier” may have led to a significant amount of particles flowing from its particle filtration system to bio-filters and Above: Bluehouse salmon side filters.This resulted in increased turbidity and possibly gases, causing abnormal fish behaviour.The company found that fish accumulated at the bottom of the tanks, disrupted the flow of new water and caused an increase in mortality. Atlantic Sapphire said it expects to lose 500 tonnes of fish – around 5% of its first phase annual harvest volume – as a result of the problem. However, it stressed that the incident will not affect the continuity of deliveries to the company’s customers. The episode is likely to be seen as a temporary setback for a company with big ambitions. In January it was reported to be seeking to register on the US OTCQX market, which offers young enterprises the opportunity to expand investor access.To qualify, companies are required to meet high financial standards and follow best practice governance. A couple of weeks later,Atlantic Sapphire announced plans to scale up output from 15,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes, gutted weight, in the second phase of its highly acclaimed “Miami Bluehouse” salmon production in Florida. The company also has a site in Hvide Sande, Denmark.

All the latest industry news from around the world

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Chilean salmon company algae losses rise to $4.4m

THE losses suffered in a recent algae attack are far higher than first feared for Salmones Camanchaca, Chile’s largest salmon farmer. After being hit by further algaebased mortalities, the company issued an update late on Sunday night saying it had lost 1.3 million fish which is likely to cost it more than $4m. In a statement published on Oslo’s Euronext website, Salmones Camanchaca, said:“The toxic algal bloom in the Comau Fjord, Los Lagos Region (of) Chile affecting the Leptepu, Porcelana and Loncochalgua farming sites, has caused to date an accumulated mortality of 1.3 million fish, equivalent to 2,250 tons of biomass, with weights between 450 grams and 2.5Kg depending on the affected site,

World News.indd 23

making an average weight of 1.2Kg. “This mortality corresponds to 11% of the company’s total fish.” The previous loss estimate when the original algae attack was first reported in mid-March was 162,000 fish or 2.9% of biomass. The statement adds:“Based on the information available at this time, it is estimated that the event in the Comau Fjord will generate a direct financial loss of $4.4m (£3.17m), net of estimated insurance claim, which has been activated, and of which deductibles have already been fully applied to this calculation… 2021 harvest volume estimates are reduced to a range of 41,000 to 44,000 tonnes whole fish equivalent (WFE) of Atlantic salmon.” The collection of dead fish will continue to be carried out normally and in accordance with current contingency plans, the company said, and the surviving fish are being transferred to sites outside the Comau Fjord, which is expected to be completed soon,” it concludes. Algal blooms suck up oxygen in the water, suffocating fish contained in farm cages.


12/04/2021 16:16:16

Processing News

Seafood Expo North America is cancelled Seafood Expo North America, one of the leading events for the industry, has been cancelled because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. that we cannot move forward with planning an event like ours.” The company said that conversations with customers, Buyers... will including high-volume buyers in retail and be ready to foodservice, have meet in person confirmed they will be ready to meet in 2022 in-person in 2022. Diversified said: “Buyers have expressed the importance and unique value of meeting face to face in maintaining diligently over the current relationships past several months and finding new prodseeking a way to ucts and suppliers at safely make the July 2021 edition happen. the event.” Seafood Expo However, current Global/Seafood COVID restrictions Processing Global, limiting the capacity the world’s largest of indoor venues seafood event, also and the state of the produced by Diversireopening plan for fied Communications, the Commonwealth is still scheduled to of Massachusetts as related to convention take place this year in Barcelona, Spain, on facilities, have recently made it evident 7-9 September, 2021.

THE event, due to be held in Boston, Massachusetts in July, had already been postponed from March this year. The next Seafood Expo in the US,

which combines with Seafood Processing North America, is due to take place over 1315 March 2022 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Centre. Diversified Com-

munications, which organises the event, said that it had reluctantly determined that it would be impossible to stage the expo this summer given the health concerns.

Liz Plizga, Group Vice President, Diversified Communications, said: “We were determined to host an in-person event for our seafood community and have worked

Loch Duart launches Label Rouge packs INDEPENDENT Sco�sh salmon farmer Loch Duart has launched a new pack to showcase its “Label Rouge” superior quality salmon. Label Rouge is a pres�gious food standard label accredited by the French Na�onal Commission for Labels and Cer�fica�on, the French public body responsible for quality and origin marks rela�ng to food products. Loch Duart has been Label Rouge accredited since 2014, but the new branding has only been made possible through the company’s investment in its new processing plant in Dingwall. Mark Warrington, Managing Director of Loch Duart, said: “The specially selected, Label Rouge quality Loch Duart fillets are available in our new brand-


Processing News.indd 24

ed packs, giving restaurants, hotels, bars and home cooks the chance to work with the very highest graded salmon. With our new processing and packaging plant we can provide these individually prepared packs as the UK hospitality sector has a clearer roadmap towards fully reopening. He added: “We’re proud to be

part of a sector whose produce has been given this most pres�gious level of endorsement for nearly 30 years. Loch Duart is looking forward to working with all our wonderful customers to ensure they have the best looking and tas�ng salmon in the world.” Sco�sh salmon was the first non-French food product to

be awarded the Label Rouge quality mark.  See also Processing and Traceability, page 58

Above: Loch Duart’s LabelRouge fillet pack

12/04/2021 16:10:37

Processing News

Associated Seafoods reports improved profits for 2020

SCOTTISH smoked fish and shellfish busines Associated Seafoods Limited (ASL) has reported increased profits for 2020 despite “uncertainty” affec�ng the market. ASL, the parent company of Lossie Seafoods and Moray Seafoods, posted an opera�ng profit of £1.8m (2019: £0.8m) on slightly reduced turnover of £31.3m (2019: £32.3m). The company said: “Despite 2020 being a year of uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group has performed strongly.” ASL a�ributed its improved profit performance to investment in cost reduc�on machinery, and movements in fish prices.

The group’s net assets were £4.1m at the end of the financial year (2019: £2.9m). The company’s salmon business reported opera�ng profits of £1.43m (2019: £0.79m) on turnover of £27.6m (2019: £28m). For shellfish, opera�ng profit was £0.55m (2019: £0.18m) on turnover of £3.75m (2019: £4.3m). The company said it expects to further grow its opera�ng capacity through 2021, with further sales growth and investment in more machinery aimed at cu�ng costs. Its report for 2020 notes that uncertainty over a poten�al no-deal Brexit has receded following the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Mowi plans upgrade for Blar Mhor LEADING salmon producer Mowi is investing in an upgrade for its Blar Mhor processing facility in Fort William. The project will take the plant up to a capacity of more than 80,000 tonnes. Mowi said that building work is expected to start this year, for completion in the second half of 2022. Meanwhile, Scott Nolan, Processing Development

Above: The Blar Mhor team

Processing News.indd 25

Manager for Mowi Scotland, has been promoted to the position of Processing Director to manage the project. The new-look Blar Mhor will feature robotic technology for handling and grading salmon and production will continue throughout the upgrade project.  See more in Processing and Traceability, page 58.

Canadian food giant to acquire Young’s parent YOUNG’S, Britain’s largest seafood business, is about to get a Canadian owner. The Eight Fi�y group, which includes Grimsby-based Young’s and pork producer Karro, has agreed to become part of Sofina Foods on the other side of the Atlan�c. The sale figure has not been disclosed. Young’s and Karro were brought together under one umbrella two years ago when the parent company of Young’s Seafood was sold to the interna�onal private equity firm CapVest Partners. Young’s, which employs more than 2,000 people in Grimsby and Scotland, is also a major buyer of Sco�sh farmed salmon and has a produc�on centre near Edinburgh making ready seafood meals for Waitrose. Sofina Foods is one of Canada’s largest food producers and has a 25-year history of acquisi�ons, growth and success. Sofina Foods is one of the country’s leading manufacturers of primary and further processed protein products for both retail and foodservice customers. Its brands are staples in Canadian households and include Cuddy; Lilydale; Janes; Mastro; San Daniele; Fletcher’s, Vienna and Zamzam. Sofina Foods currently operates 21 different sites and employs approximately 5,000 people. Eight Fi�y is a leading supplier of both branded and own-label seafood and pork. The pork division is one of the largest processors and suppliers of products across the UK and Ireland. The seafood division is the largest provider of chilled and frozen products across the UK, including the Young’s brand, and is a major player in frozen seafood across Germany and France. The Eight Fi�y business will remain under the leadership of Di Walker and will complement Sofina Food’s exis�ng leading North American pla�orm. As Europe’s mul�-protein specialist, Eight Fi�y will con�nue to provide sustainable, high-quality food products while focussing on growth. Jason Rodrigues, Partner at CapVest, said: “We’ve created a leading European mul�-protein business through a combina�on of strategic investment in our core asset base and complementary acquisi�ons of fantas�c na�onal champions. “Eight Fi�y delivers best-in-class products to our customers and consumers and we are all very proud of what Di Walker and her team have achieved over the last four years. We’re confident that Eight Fi�y will con�nue to flourish under Sofina Food’s ownership.” Di Walker, CEO of Eight Fi�y, said: “We began this journey as a UK-only pork supplier doing less than £500 million in sales and a�er several years of transforma�onal organic and acquisi�ve progress are now the European mul�-protein specialist with over £2 billion in sales. This transac�on and the interest in Eight Fi�y is a great reflec�on on the quality of the business and testament to the work that CapVest and our en�re management team have completed. We’re very excited to join Sofina Foods to deliver on their ambi�ous future growth plans.” Michael La�fi, Founder and Execu�ve Chairman of Sofina Foods, said: “As a leading Canadian mul�-protein specialist, this acquisi�on allows Sofina Foods to con�nue on our path of ambi�ous expansion. Based in Markham, Ontario, Sofina Foods is one of Canada’s largest food producers and with a broad por�olio of fish, meat and poultry products, it has created a solid global founda�on for con�nued growth. He added: “With a history of excellence in food produc�on and processing spanning over 25 years, the strong brands of Eight Fi�y Food Group align perfectly with our prominent brands and our shared future vision.”


12/04/2021 16:11:20



Unfair game Wild salmon numbers have declined, but is fish farming to blame?


Earlier this month, I came across a headline in the Mail on Sunday that declared: “Listen to country folk – we know our land best”. This was a piece wri�en by Alex Hogg MBE, chairman of the Sco�sh Gamekeepers Associa�on and it is interes�ng because he does not seem to follow his own advice. His ar�cle was inspired by plans for rural workers to protest online because they feel that many, including poli�cians, are so detached from rural life that they have li�le understanding of the issues. Mr Hogg is concerned about deer management, fish farming, species reintroduc�on and fox control amongst other things. He writes: “Our voices are not listened to.” This is all very confusing, because the fish farming sector is also part of rural life, and it is clear that Mr Hogg and his colleagues in the hun�ng, fishing, shoo�ng sector are not in the slightest bit interested in listening to people from the fish farming industry – even if they, too, know their sector best. Mr Hogg makes two points about salmon farming. First he says that three years ago, cross-party Parliamentary commi�ees indicated major changes were needed to be�er regulate fish farming. He then con�nues that, whilst the Sco�sh Gamekeepers Associa�on is not opposed to good fish farming opera�ons, the Government has not kept its part of the bargain. He says that fish farms are endangering already declining salmon popula�ons, and this is threatening ghillie jobs. Although there has been an a�empt to reach out to Mr Hogg, he has not replied. Like much of the wild fish sector. he does not seem that


Martin Jaffa.indd 26

keen about listening to others. They have a narra�ve that they have fixed in stone, and are not interested in anything that might undermine it. Mr Hogg refers to the Parliamentary Commi�ee inquiries of 2018. He does not men�on that the REC Commi�ee reconvened to discuss salmon farming in November last year. These commi�ees are not Government and Mr Hogg men�ons a “bargain” that might be more perceived than real. The REC Commi�ee heard last November that SEPA (the Sco�sh Environment Protec�on Agency), one of the regulators, does not believe that the decline of wild fish is related to salmon farming. So far, the wild fish sector has ignored this statement, clearly in the hope it will be soon forgo�en. Those in the wild fish sector, including Mr Hogg, associate the current crisis in wild salmon with salmon farming. Yet, even before the arrival of salmon farming to the west coast, catches from rivers in what is now called the Aquaculture Zone averaged only about 10% of the total Sco�sh catch. This means that 90% of salmon caught by anglers are

12/04/2021 16:07:23

Unfair game

from rivers, such as the Tay and Tweed, that cannot be considered to be situated anywhere near a salmon farm. In 2018, Salmon & Trout Conservation commissioned a report from the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research that concluded that in Norway, the loss of salmon due to the impact of salmon farming is about 10% of the national stock. Scotland is geographically different to Norway in relation to the distribution of salmon farms, so even if the figure was 20% (a number I have plucked from the air) this would account for about 2% of the total Scottish stock. In a long-term trial using over 352,000 smolts, researchers from the Marine Institute in Ireland found that the difference in survival rates between the group treated with an anti-lice product and a control was only 1%. This research did not go down well with the wild fish lobby who have refused to accept the findings ever since. Even Marine Scotland Science’s (MSS) “Summary of the Science” published on the Scottish Government website does not specifically cite this work, preferring to bury it with results from other studies. MSS have long argued that Scotland is different to Ireland and hence they persuaded the now defunct Scottish Aquaculture Research Fund (SARF) to spend £600,000, half of which came from the industry, on a similar study. This study used the same precious wild salmon smolts that MSS claim to be trying to protect. There are no results from this study because MSS failed to recapture any returning smolts from either the treated or control group. Experimental trial is one thing, but real-life observation is another. The wild fish sector continues to highlight that many rivers in the Aquaculture Zone are of a Grade 3 conservation status. Thirty-six rivers in Scotland have been classified as Grade 1, yet 10 (28%) are locat-

Martin Jaffa.indd 27

ed in the Aquaculture Zone. A further 33 rivers across Scotland have been classified as Grade 2 of which 12 (36%) are in the Aquaculture Zone. All these rivers can be exploited by anglers, meaning that their conservation status is sufficiently good to allow anglers to kill fish for the pot. The most surprising classification of these rivers is the River Ewe (Grade 1) given that this farm is blamed by the wild fish sector for causing the collapse of the Loch Maree sea trout fishery. Yet this river, just 7 km from the farm (now closed), is of the same status as the best rivers in Scotland such as the Spey, the Tay and the Tweed. I would be delighted to hear Mr Hogg’s explanation for these observations but sadly, Mr Hogg appears to believe that when it comes to rural life, only his narrative should be heard. FF

Above: Fly-fishing on the River Tweed Left: Wild salmon

of the wild fish sector. “heLikedoesmuch not seem that keen about listening to others ”


12/04/2021 16:08:00

Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation


Holyrood in the balance The Scottish elections in May could bring a change our industry cannot afford to ignore


ohn Finnie is one of many MSPs who are standing down at next month’s Holyrood elec�on and I will be sorry to see him go. That is because he has been the only Green MSP in the Sco�sh Parliament I have come across who has been prepared to have a proper dialogue and discussion with Scotland’s salmon farmers. As far as the rest of the Green parliamentary group is concerned, I couldn’t get mee�ngs, indeed I could hardly get responses to emails when I tried to engage with them on behalf of Scotland’s salmon farmers. In environmental terms, that always struck me as odd. A�er all, fish farming evolved to help save wild fish stocks in our oceans and farmed salmon have a low carbon footprint, low water use and great feed conversion rates. If ever there was a green protein produc�on industry, it is salmon farming, so why wouldn’t the MSPs want to meet us to discuss this? But poli�cally I felt it was an odd decision too. For MSPs to refuse to meet with a sector they don’t like showed a narrowness of vision and a prejudice that, I suspected, could easily come back to haunt them. Not only that, but as far as our sector is concerned, they now appear blinkered, inflexible and intolerant – except, of course, for Mr Finnie – pursuing an opposi�on to salmon farming which seems based more on dogma than ra�onality. But that is why the latest polls should worry us. Under some current forecasts, the Greens could get as many as 11 MSPs in the Sco�sh Parliament a�er May’s elec�on.


Hamish MacDonnell.indd 28

Not only would that represent a bigger haul of Green MSPs than ever before but, with the SNP likely to struggle to get anywhere near a majority, those Green MSPs could provide Nicola Sturgeon with a lifeline. Get those Greens on board, she will be urged, and the road to another independence referendum will be secure. She will not need telling that the best way to �e the Greens in is with a formal coali�on deal, an SNP-Green government. If that happens, there will be Green cabinet secretaries, Green ministers and possibly even a Green Deputy First Minister. Ms Sturgeon’s SNP administra�on has been hugely suppor�ve of Scotland’s salmon farming sector. The government has long recognised the huge economic importance of salmon farming, par�cularly to remote rural communi�es and has backed it. Ministers have been cri�cal too: they have demanded improvements and they have

Salmon “farmers

cannot afford to lose the backing of the governments where they farm

12/04/2021 16:05:29

Holyrood in the balance

got them with the sector and the administration working well together. But what will happen to that support if the SNP administration is not just tinged with green but has a Green Party vein running right the way through it? Many observers saw the sudden emergence of Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party as a big blow to Green aspirations with independence-supporting non-SNP voters now more likely to be tempted more by Mr Salmond than Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie. But I’m not so sure it is as clear cut as that. There are some SNP voters who were intending to vote SNP on the first vote and Green

Far left: Nicola Sturgeon Left: Alex Salmond Above: Scottish salmon farm Top right: John Finnie MSP Right: Patrick Harvie MSP

Hamish MacDonnell.indd 29

on the second and who might now be tempted by Alba, but this number will not be large. I also do not believe there is much crossover between Green voters and supporters of Mr Salmond. The former First Minister’s approach to politics has been simple and flexible: he will always back any policy that furthers the independence cause, even if that infuriates the SNP’s more radical, fundamentalist base. This clashes with the Green approach, which is about principle over practicality, every time. What seems likely is that Mr Salmond himself will get elected in the North East of Scotland, where he still has a residual personal vote, but that Alba will be lucky to get any other MSPs elected. It is also distinctly possible that the feud between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond will succeed in driving some voters away from the SNP and Alba altogether, leaving them with little choice but to support the Greens. If that happens, then the decent clutch of seats the Greens crave will not be out of reach for the party. It is also worth factoring in the context of an exhausted government; a party that has been in power for 14 years; a First Minister wearied by the pandemic and the feud with her former mentor; and a rival party worn out by these last five years in opposition. One SNP insider told me the atmosphere at Holyrood had become “toxic” with no party trusting anything any other party said and all trying all sorts of dirty tricks to undermine their opponents. It was this, he said – more than anything – that made the prospect of another term of minority government seem so unappealing. That is why an SNP-Green coalition is still a strong possibility and it is one that should worry Scotland’s salmon farmers. The lessons from around the world, in British Columbia in particular, are clear: salmon farmers cannot afford to lose the backing of the governments where they farm. That is why the SSPO will be making sure that every candidate in the areas where our members farm knows how important this sector is, not just in economic terms but in community terms and through the whole supply chain too. We want discussion, we want debate: we want to tell everyone about the great environmental story we have to tell. We want to explain the successes and explain why our critics are wrong. One way of doing that is through face-to-face meetings with MSPs and parliamentarians but, if they won’t engage then we will find other ways of doing that. I really hope Mr Finnie enjoys his retirement but I also hope that, if he is replaced with new Green MSPs, they adopt his open, accommodating and consensual approach to dealing with our sector. Otherwise, it could be a very long four years until the next election. FF


12/04/2021 16:06:09



Game changers Faroes-based operator Bakkafrost is showing faith in its Scottish acquisition


akkafrost has made it clear it is ready to spend big in order to reshape the Sco�sh Salmon Company. The Faroese salmon farming group has set aside an investment programme totalling around £180m – or £45m (DKK 400m) a year between now and 2024, which they intend to be a game changer. The investment programme for the Faroe Islands is es�mated at DKK 1.8bn (£207m). A sizeable part of the money for Scotland will be used to fund the building of three large hatcheries to increase smolt capacity so it eventually becomes self-sufficient in providing large smolt. The first of these will be at the company’s exis�ng Applecross hatchery, currently being expanded and equipped with RAS (recircula�ng aquaculture system) technology. Suitable sites for the next two large hatcheries are s�ll under considera�on. When Bakkafrost acquired the Sco�sh Salmon Company in October 2019 for around £520m it made it clear that considerable investment would be needed. The group operates 44 marine sites on the West Coast of Scotland and

the Hebridean Islands with 74,765 tonnes of current permi�ed licence volume. It also owns a unique Na�ve Hebridean broodstock programme producing pure Sco�sh Island salmon, originally bred from wild stock and farmed only in Hebridean waters. This, says the company, results in a strong, lean and no�ceably firmer fish than with other Atlan�c salmon. SSC operates two harvest sta�ons, Arnish Point in the North of Scotland and Ardyne in the south of the country with a total daily capacity of 266 tonnes, along with two processing factories and a smokehouse. Bakkafrost says the farming situa�on in Scotland is improving albeit gradually, although the second half of last year was more challenging, especially during the final quarter when SSC suffered excep�onally high mortality rates at

Left: A Bakkafrost farm in the Faroes Opposite from top: The Faroes coastline


Bakkafrost and Scotland - Vince.indd 30

12/04/2021 16:03:11

Game changers

some farm sites. Part of that was driven by very severe rainfall in August when Storm Ellen swept through the region causing severe damage to the fish farms of other companies. The annual report explains: “History has demonstrated that biological challenges in the second half of the year have been a repeating pa�ern in the Sco�sh Salmon Company. This pa�ern is expected to be broken with the transforma�on of the farming opera�on, that we will be making in the Sco�sh opera�on in coming years. “Challenging third and fourth quarters may be expected for the next couple of years but with gradually reduced severity as the large-smolt strategy is being implemented in the Sco�sh farming opera�on. Bakkafrost chairman Runi M. Hansen told shareholders: “By increasing the quality and smolt size to 500g the cycle �me at sea is reduced to 10-12 months, hereby reducing the biological risk as well as enabling sustainable growth in harvest volume. “This expansion will gradually increase smolt size and quality and is expected to be completed by 2023, wherea�er we will be self-sufficient with 250g smolt in Scotland.” He added: “This alone will be a game-changer for the farming opera�on in Scotland and will improve further when the next two hatcheries are finalised and the average size of smolts is increased to 500g.” Bakkafrost said the large-smolt strategy will also play a central role in the Faroe Islands. The company plans to release (ie transfer to the sea) 14.5 million smolts in the Faroe Islands this year, a slight increase compared to 14.3 million smolts in 2020. The smolt release in Scotland will total 11m, up on the 2020 figure of 10.4m. “The number and average weight of smolts released are key elements of predic�ng Bakkafrost’s future produc�on,” the report adds. Bakkafrost says the objec�ve of farming methods in the Faroe Islands is to increase biological and veterinary security and to support a sustainable and healthy opera�on, by total separa�on of salmon genera�ons, vaccina�on

This expansion will gradually increase smolt size and quality

against different diseases (ISA – infec�ous salmon anaemia – among others), along with strict regula�on of movement of equipment and fish. However, fish farming ac�vi�es in Scotland differ in both biology and legisla�on, Bakkafrost says. “It will therefore take �me to refine and improve the farming method in Scotland,” the report stresses. It goes on: “Significant investments across the value chain are needed. The farming costs have increased in recent years, especially because of increased feed costs and health costs. In the Faroe Islands, farming sites have been moved further out of the �ords to more exposed areas, where more expensive equipment is needed.” The plan is also to do something similar in Scotland in areas where that is possible. Salmon feed with a high marine content, similar to the diet in the wild, is used in both the Faroes and Scotland, but it does result in rela�vely high feed costs. However, it did bring benefits such as increased produc�on and greater efficiency. This also brought high standards of animal welfare which have a posi�ve impact on non-feed cost elements. The group remains confident about the future, concluding: “Despite the uncertain�es imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, long term development in the world market for salmon products will most likely remain favourable for Bakkafrost. “Bakkafrost has a long value chain and a cost-efficient produc�on of high-quality salmon products and will likely maintain the financial flexibility going forward.” FF

BIGGER HARVEST THIS YEAR Bakkafrost’s harvest volumes this year should total 66,000 tonnes (gu�ed weight) in the Faroe Islands and 40,000 tonnes in Scotland, giving a total harvest of 106,000 tonnes – 20,000 tonnes higher than last year. The group opera�onal EBIT was DKK 621 million for 2020, compared to DKK 1,325 million in 2019, the reduc�on due to lower salmon prices resul�ng from Covid-19.

Bakkafrost and Scotland - Vince.indd 31


12/04/2021 16:03:54



The clean-up crew Sea cucumbers could help keep the seabed free of organic waste from aquaculture


group of researchers is inves�ga�ng whether sea cucumbers can help to minimise the environmental impacts of fish farming. They recently completed a feasibility study to assess how well the creatures perform under laboratory condi�ons, and hope that their posi�ve results will allow them to undertake further research. The feasibility study was undertaken by Blue Remedia�on, a company set up by four PhD students from the University of Strathclyde and Heriot-Wa� University. Their research was assisted by the UK Seafood Innova�on Fund, with support from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innova�on Centre (SAIC). Blue Remedia�on’s founders – friends Melinda Choua, Ana Rodriguez, Soizic Garnier and Marta Pon� – hit upon the idea of using sea cucumbers to process salmon aquaculture waste in the autumn of 2019. “We ini�ally thought about a much wider project, using sea cucumbers as part of an integrated mul�-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) project, then applied for a place on a mentoring programme led by Women in Sco�sh Aquaculture (WiSA) in January 2020. This helped us to narrow down and formulate our project idea,” explained Pon�. The project aimed to be a star�ng point for reconciling fish produc�on and environmental conserva�on. Bioremedia�on, the process of using living organisms to remove pollutants and toxins, is already commonly used in agriculture, par�cularly in Asia and China, to restore polluted soil. However, it is new to aquaculture in Europe. Wrasse and lumpfish are already in use as cleaner fish, helping to keep


Nicki Holmyard.indd 32

down sea lice numbers, and sea urchins have been trialled in the past to graze in salmon cages. Sea cucumbers, which are from the same family as sea urchins and are naturally found in Sco�sh waters, could help deal with deposits of uneaten food and fish faeces on the seabed. There are more than 1,250 known species of sea cucumbers, which are basically a diges�ve tract with a hole at either end, housed in an oblong body that resembles a fat cucumber. Found on the seabed worldwide, they range widely in size from size from around two cen�metres to nearly two metres. These creatures move around by constantly changing the water pressure in the rows of feet that run the length of the bodies, making them expand and contract. As they move, sea cucumbers ingest the seafloor, breaking it down into small fragments internally, then excrete it back out again. In doing so, they play an important environmental role by removing excess organic ma�er from the sediment. The goal of Blue Remedia�on’s study was to ascertain whether it would be feasible to offer farmers a sustainable alterna�ve to reduce their seabed impact, which is a factor that currently limits fish produc�on. The foursome reasoned that using a natural method to improve the condi�on of the seabed would allow salmon farmers to increase the allowable amount of fish biomass Above and left: Sea in their cages. cucumber Melinda Choua explained that WISA had been a huge accelerator in helping the team to get the project off the ground, and invaluable in introducing them to Mowi, which became their industrial partner, supplying sediment from their Loch Leven site. Salmon faeces were provided by the University of S�rling’s Ins�tute of Aquaculture, so that the researchers could mimic the natural ecosystem. “WISA also provided us with a mentor, Michael Mason, who put us in touch with all the different

12/04/2021 16:00:30

The clean-up crew

organisations dealing with Scottish aquaculture… Michael was also invaluable in helping us to understand how to put together a business in Scotland,” she said. To answer their initial questions, the researchers designed the study to look at a number of variables, such as absorption efficiency and benthic waste accumulation, in order to find the optimum conditions and number of sea cucumbers that producers could deploy beneath their cages. Eighteen Scottish sea cucumbers were fed on a variety of diets, and their appreciation of salmon faeces was clear. “The study was carried out by researchers at SAMS, led by Dr Georgina Robinson, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, we were not able to see it first hand, which was a disappointment. However, alongside the extensive regulatory frameworks that are in place for Scottish salmon farming, we believe we have identified a possible natural solution that could absorb some of the waste that is inevitably produced by fish and the process of feeding them,” said Ponti. As part of the project, the researchers built a computer model that integrates with existing and NewDEPOMOD computer models, developed by SAMS, which predict the impact of fish farm discharges on the seabed. Excited by their findings, Blue Remediation is seeking funding to undertake a larger trial, which will refine their computer model, determine the impact

sea cucumbers in Scottish “Using waters has great potential ”

Nicki Holmyard.indd 33

of introducing and integrating different species, look at the potential for breeding sea cucumbers in captivity, investigate potential impacts on wild cucumbers, and determine parameters for monitoring their health and wellbeing and controlling disease. “Using sea cucumbers in Scottish waters has great potential, but there are still a number of questions that we need to find the answers to, including what to do with them when their useful life is over. Sea cucumbers are considered a delicacy in Asia and can fetch up to $3,000 per kilo, so there may be added value in mainstream sea cucumber cultivation, going hand in hand with the environmental benefits. There is also potential for using them in pharmaceutical applications,” said Rodriguez. One tricky area is working out how to contain the sea cucumbers on the seabed under salmon cages, since as Ponti points out: “They are great escape artists!” ”It may all sound easy, but there would need to be many trials before it reached maximum efficiency and could be used as an industrial application. However, we are very excited by the potential we have seen so far,” she said. Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, believes there are exciting opportunities to build sustainable aquaculture systems in Scotland. “With research projects exploring cost-effective, data-led methods, such as using sea cucumbers, we could transform the sector’s approach to waste management. Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture is still in its infancy in Scotland, but could be a valuable, sustainable, circular method of ensuring resources don’t go to waste,” she said. Find out more about the UK Seafood Innovation Fund at seafoodinnovation. fund FF


12/04/2021 16:01:21


Problems persist The latest report on mortalities in the Norwegian salmon industry show that the numbers are still too high BY VINCE MCDONAGH

our “effWhen orts are


highly cri�cal report on the state of fish health in Norway’s salmon sector has been published by the country’s Veterinary Ins�tute. Parts of it do not make for comfortable reading with calls for new thinking to tackle the various problems. The latest data from the Norwegian Veterinary Ins�tute Fish Health Report 2020 shows that more than 52 million farmed fish died before their scheduled harvest date last year. The figure is close to the record total in 2019 when 53 million fish died prematurely, but that was the year when algae unexpectedly struck a sec�on of the Norwegian coastline, resul�ng in eight million extra deaths. Taking that incident out of the picture, 2020 has to be the worst year yet. The report says that such a high figure suggests too many fish are prone to diseases of one sort or another. The Ins�tute’s department director Edgar Brun said: “The challenges within welfare and disease in salmon have not improved in Norwegian farming. When our efforts are not having an effect, it is �me for new thinking on the problem.” Norway’s Fisheries Minister Odd Emil Ingebrigsten said the mortality rate was far too high and mainly due to the way salmon lice were being treated. He also expressed concern about the number of Infec�ous Salm-


Norway mortalities - Vince.indd 34

not having an effect, it is �me for new thinking

on Anaemia (ISA) cases although the country did have an efficient monitoring system which was able to contain outbreaks. The report provides an annual picture on fish health using data gathered from fish farms, fish

12/04/2021 15:58:19

Problems persist


The number of plants with pancrea�c disease sys the report, remains at a high level with 158 new cases, slightly up on 2019. There had been an increase in the number of cases of PD caused by the SAV-3 variant in Produc�on Area 2.


The Norwegian Food Safety Authority says heart failure is seen as the main problem in the food fish leading to premature mortality in salmon last year with CMS diagnosed at 154 sites, the majority in the southern and central parts of the country.


Above from top: Freefloa�ng amoeba Paramoeba perurans; AGD on gills of Atlan�c salmon indicated by patches of white discolora�on; Dr Sophie Fridman and PhD researcher Carolina Fernandez collec�ng gill samples and isolates of Paramoeba perurans; Photomicrograph showing amoebae on gills Top right: Pancreas Disease in salmon Right: Checking the salmon Top left: Sea lice; Edgar Brun Left: Furunculosis in salmon

health services, private laboratories and the Ins�tute’s own diagnos�cs. Ingunn Sommerset, head of fish health at the Ins�tute, said the situa�on had worsened despite many in the industry making great efforts to tackle disease, lice and premature mortality. She suggested the explana�on probably lies in an interplay of nega�ve effects in the treatment of lice and infec�ous diseases, which have existed in the industry for a long �me. Diseases such as infec�ous salmon anaemia (ISA), pancrea�c disease (PD) and heart failure (CMS) were all widespread in Norwegian fish farms last year. In addi�on, the industry saw the emergence of pasteurellosis, a new bacterial disease among salmon which seems to have gained a foothold in Western Norway. Not every stretch of the coastline is the same, however. The area between the picturesque holiday area of Nordhordaland and Stadt, known as Produc�on Area 4, had some of the worst results with mortality at 27%, up from 19.4% the previous year. She said there was no simple explana�on for this, but it was an area where the hot water thermal delicing treatment had been used the most. However, the number of lice treatments did not differ that much from those in other parts of the country. Produc�on area 4 had a total of 56 cases of pancrea�c disease (PD) out of a total of 158 in all of Norway, but as yet there was li�le or no clue as to how much extra mortality PD causes. The report says the number of Infec�ous Salmon Anaemia cases was the highest since 1993, with 23 new detected cases at sea-based salmon farms, twice the total for 2019.The disease was detected at seven produc�on areas along the coast, but the main focus has been on the Troms and Finnmark region (produc�on Area or PO 10-12) with a total of 15 detec�ons. About half of the ISA cases in 2020 were considered to be primary outbreaks. This means they could not be linked to previous incidents or another clear source of infec�on. Director Edgar Brun said that when current treatments do not give the desired results in terms of reducing illness and improving welfare, it was �me to look again at how to deal with the issues. “We can do more to reduce infec�on contact between geographical areas in order to eradicate or reduce the disease burden, as well as to look at strategic measures to reduce the need for lice treatments.” It was important to obtain a na�onal overview of what different issues caused deaths in fish. “Research, administra�on and the industry itself are engaged in this now, so we should be able to gain knowledge that can provide a basis for targeted measures,” he concluded. FF

Norway mortalities - Vince.indd 35

A disease of both wild and cul�vated salmon that can lead to bacterial sep�caemia and is o�en fatal if not treated promptly with an�bio�cs. The disease, which does not pose a threat to humans, was detected in five sea locali�es last year.


Commonly known as Cardiovascular inflamma�on, this is a serious unlisted disease, but as a cause of mortality it is ranked somewhat lower. HSMB disease was confirmed in 161 locali�es.


Gill disease causes mortality, reduced welfare and lower growth. The report says it is one of the health problems that registered the highest increase last year. Source: Norwegian Veterinary Institute Fish Health Report 2020


12/04/2021 15:59:00


More than just teething troubles SIr, I read with interest your recent ar�cle “Time for a Lighter Touch” by Hamish Macdonell (Fish Farmer, March 2021) As Mr Macdonell points out, customs processes can be frustra�ng, �me-consuming, expensive, and inconsistent. This is precisely why the Single Market and the Customs Union were created - specifically to eliminate those burdens on businesses when dealing with companies in other member states.

The inevitable outcome of leaving a fric�onless market is the introduc�on of fric�on

As a group, the members get together and agree common (legally enforceable) rules which everyone agrees on. Because everyone follows the same rules, there is no need for checks. Due to the Brexit vote, the UK has now le� the legal arrangements which eliminate the red tape of import and export. The EU did offer the UK the right to remain in either or both systems, but the UK declined to do so. It would have meant, a�er all, accep�ng all EU rules, regula�ons, and trade agreements without having a vote on those ma�ers (because those are decided only by EU members). If the EU made an exemp�on for UK fish, then anyone wishing to send anything into the EU could simply label it as fish. With no checks at all, it would become a smuggler’s paradise for any goods which were themselves subject to fric�on and import du�es and tariffs and point of origin checks, or any of the other many forms of the normal customs red tape which the EU has eliminated between member states. By defini�on, the inevitable outcome of leaving a fric�onless market is the introduc�on of fric�on. Anyone who promised it wouldn’t was, quite simply, lying. I am afraid that if Mr Macdonell now wishes to return to the ease of trade which the fishing industry (and the UK as a whole) has known for the last few decades, then his only op�on is to lobby to rejoin the mechanisms which allow fric�onless trade. Either as a rule-taking na�on with no say, or as a full member of the EU, helping to agree and to form the rules. Un�l that happens, I am afraid that, under WTO rules, border fric�on is both a necessary and a legally required part of trade with EU members. The UK has yet to start enforcing the required checks on EU goods, and are asking for an extension. When the UK does begin enforcing these checks, fric�on at the border will increase in the same way for imports as it already has for exports. I hope that any of your readers who depend on buying equipment


Letters.indd 36

from the EU are prepared. If not, they should start preparing at once. They can expect higher prices and delays - if their EU suppliers are s�ll willing (and legally able) to export to the UK at all. Yours, Simon Keller-Ziegler

12/04/2021 15:56:25

Fish health and welfare

Duty of


Looking after fish wellbeing is an imperative for the industry


ish welfare is in the news. The aquaculture industry has come under fire, ini�ally a�er a report from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) – accompanied by undercover video footage showing dead and injured fish – alleged poor prac�ce in the Sco�sh salmon farming industry. Then, a controversial documentary shown on Ne�lix – Seaspiracy – took aim at the fishing industry as a whole, including aquaculture. The allega�ons and conclusions in both the CIWF report and Seaspiracy are contested by the industry. Responsible fish farm operators take the welfare of their stock seriously, not only for economic reasons but also because the industry needs to do the right thing – and to be seen to do it. Governments are also serious about fish welfare and they have also challenged the industry recently. In Norway, a government study of premature mortali�es in salmon farming has found that 2020 was one of the worst years for mortali�es in the country’s farms. The Norwegian Veterinary Ins�tute has called for “new thinking” to address the ma�er (see Vince McDonagh’s ar�cle, page 34 of this issue). In Scotland, the Farmed Fish Health Framework under Government agency Marine Scotland has set out a clarified set of priori�es: addressing the causes of fish mortality, understanding the impact of climate change and the development of treatments. The steering group for the 10 year framework, a collabora�on between the aquaculture sector and Sco�sh Government and its advisers, will be chaired by The Sco�sh Government’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Sheila Voas. The key priori�es for the framework will be: • developing a consistent repor�ng methodology for collec�on of informa�on on the causes of farmed fish mortality, and providing survival data; • addressing the impact of climate change and ocean acidifica�on, including real-�me monitoring of plankton and mapping clima�c condi�ons around Scotland’s coasts; and • encouraging the development of new medicines with the aim of increasing treatment flexibility.

As from 29 March, repor�ng on sea lice numbers is now mandatory for fish farmers in Scotland. While previous arrangements required repor�ng only where specific levels were met or exceeded (a weekly average of two adult female sea lice per fish), sea lice numbers will now need to be reported weekly, one week in arrears, to Sco�sh ministers irrespec�ve of the count. Where no count is conducted the reason must be given. Meanwhile the industry itself con�nues to find ways to be�er protect its stock. Vaccina�on has long been a game-changer against many biological threats, but since fish are very sensi�ve to handling, automated and semi-automated machines need to ensure that vaccines are delivered efficiently, accurately and in a way that has least impact on the fish. Aquaculture medical group PHARMAQ has been providing vaccina-


“on sea lice

numbers is now mandatory

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INTRO - Fish Health and Welfare.indd 37

12/04/2021 15:50:40

Fish health and welfare

but also monitors the staff delivering the vaccines to see whether addi�onal training or guidance is required. Because ge�ng monitors out to a remote loca�on can be problema�c, MSD has developed “smart glasses” that enable its veterinary experts to oversee the vaccina�on process and flag up anything that needs a�en�on. The glasses can be worn and controlled hands-free by the user, and provide a visual link for the MSD expert (see page 42 for more on how this has been applied in �on machines since its acquisi�on of Nordland Fishtech and Nordland prac�ce). Se�vaks in 2017. PHARMAQ’s NFT semi-automa�c vaccina�on machines Feed is also an come in three models to deliver different vaccina�on regimes. All are important factor for capable of vaccina�ng 2.4 fish per second, 8,500 per hour. fish health. Two reAqualife, located in Scotland, Norway and Portugal, has also developed cent studies from the a semi-automa�c vaccina�on system. The Aqualife SAIB machines are Norwegian Ins�tute designed so that they can be adapted to deliver for a range of species – of Food, Fisheries not just salmon, but, for example, �lapia or pangasius. The model was and Aquaculture developed and patented in 2020, and is expected to be commercially Research Nofima looked available from July this year. at the impact of feeding The Aqualife system requires less than half the operators of a tradi�onal regimes. One, recently manual vaccina�on team and requires li�le training as fish are simply fed reported in this magazine (Fish into it. It has been designed to be simple, small, light and extremely quiet Farmer, March 2021), found that when compared to other systems on the market and can quickly and giving the wrong feed to ballan wrasse – an easily switch between vaccina�on strategies and species at the touch of important cleaner fish species used to control a bu�on. sea lice – could have an adverse effect on their Vaccina�ng fish – and the handling that this requires – can be a tricky health. The study found that young fish fed on task. MSD Animal Health UK not only provides the vaccines themselves extruded feeds – where the feed materials are processed at high temperatures – are more likely to develop skeletal deformi�es. (For more on cleaner fish health see “Looking a�er lumpfish”, on page 48 of this issue). Another project found that salmon smolt given feed that includes hydrolysed krill grow faster and are more likely to survive their introduc�on to the sea, according to researchers at Nofima. The study aimed to find ways to reduce smolt mortality and improve growth for the cri�cal

Be�er quality fish skin means more robust fish which are less prone to injury and disease


INTRO - Fish Health and Welfare.indd 38

12/04/2021 15:53:57

Duty of care

fewer incidences of injuries and dark pigments in the skin of fish which had hydrolysed krill in their feed. This shows that fish which eat and grow well develop thicker skin at an earlier stage compared to fish that start feeding at a later stage. Be�er quality fish skin means more robust fish which are less prone to injury and disease. Addi�on of krill hydrolysate can help to improve fish health and the economic situa�on of fish farmers.” Meanwhile a study commissioned by feed first year at sea. The study, carried out in colcompany Tecnovit has found that a food suplabora�on with krill producer Rimfrost, used a plement based on natural ingredients can help hydrolysed krill-based protein, OlyPep. protect farmed gilthead sea bream against a The researchers found that even small quancommon parasite, Sparicotyle chrysophrii. ��es of the krill protein had a posi�ve impact AROTEC-G® is a microencapsulated func�onal on feed intake and growth. Senior Researcher product composed of a blend of garlic essenDr Sissel Albrektsen says: “In our experiments �al oil, carvacrol (found naturally in the herb we observed that the rela�vely small quan��es oregano) and thymol (derived from thyme and of hydrolysed krill added to the feed produced other plants). great results. We no�ced that the smolt quickly The research revealed that fish fed with the start feeding and we saw a greater increase supplement gained addi�onal protec�on for in weight. Larger, more robust fish can quickly their skin and gills against the parasite, and improve the economic situa�on of fish farmers.” their mucus was also more resistant to several The study found that the krill feed also helps strains of bacteria (more details on page 50). the smolt develop healthy skin. Dr AlbrektBiological challenges are among the biggest sen explains: “By using an advanced fish skin headaches for the aquaculture industry – so analysis tool in a follow-up experiment involving staying up to date with the latest science is a salmon being released into the sea, we found must. FF

Far left: This is the kind of image nobody in the industry wants to see (photo: Compassion in World Farming)

Left:: MSD vaccina�on Above left: Dr Sissel

Albrektsen, Nofima Above right: The Aqualife SAIB machine Right: Sea louse

How Foover can help

A new system can help remove mortalities quickly and efficiently


tandard livestock farming systems have been developed to be efficient at growing animals, but as in nature there is always a proportion which won’t make it through to harvest. Although this is a subject which many find unpalatable, mortality is a fact of farming and dealing with it is an important part of animal husbandry. The salmon farming sector has come in for significant criticism over mortality levels in recent years, but understanding mortality and reducing its occurrence is one of the key measures in the 10year farmed fish health strategy. The industry standard, and best practice, is to remove any dead fish on a daily basis. This can be challenging, but the Foover mortality recovery system developed by UCO provides a fast and efficient way of recovering and verifying that all mortalities have been collected. This is beneficial to stock health by reducing both the viral load in the pen and the potential for issues to escalate and spread, which is in line with the principles of the Scottish Code of Good Practice. Predator attacks by seals can also have a devastating effect on the welfare of farmed salmon, and removing potential food sources like mortalities at the earliest opportunity can reduce the potential for attacks. At Underwater Contracting, we have found that using the Foover system ensures that all pens can be verified mortality-free on a daily basis, reducing the potential for fish health issues and maintaining the health and welfare of the stock, which makes financial sense.

INTRO - Fish Health and Welfare.indd 39

Above: Atlan�c salmon Left: The Underwater Contrac�ng Office


12/04/2021 15:54:47

PHARMAQ – Advertorial

The jab that’s

just the job The new generation of vaccination machines are safe, effective and economical BY JAN OPPEN BERNTSEN, PHARMAQ FISHTEQ AS AND CHRIS MITCHELL PHARMAQ LTD


mmunisation of stock is now a standard practice in salmonid aquaculture and has been so for nearly three decades. In some countries it is actually illegal to transfer unvaccinated smolts to sea. The main routes of vaccine delivery are either through immersion or injection, and the methodology of the latter is developing rapidly. Whereas only a few years ago the vast majority of injections were delivered by hand into the fish’s peritoneum (IP), recent developments in both vaccine and vaccination technologies have seen some vaccines now requiring intramuscular delivery (IM). Modern vaccination machines must therefore be capable of both delivery routes. In Norway, the proportion of transferred smolts that have been machine-vaccinated is now more than two-thirds of the total and growing. This important trend was largely behind the acquisition of Nordland Fishtech and Nordland Settvaks by PHARMAQ, part of Zoetis in 2017. At that time, these two Nordland sister companies were fledgling players in the growing vaccination sector of Norwegian aquaculture and had already developed the semi-automatic NFT fish vaccination and sorting machines. PHARMAQ saw this as an interesting opportunity to bring mechanised vaccination to the global aquaculture industry through its established international network. The NFT machines are developed and fabricated in the heart of the Norwegian salmon farming area – Helgeland in Nordland county – very close to many end users. These fish farmers have been instrumental in

contributing their knowledge, experience and expertise to the NFT team who have now developed three different models from the original NFT concept. “At Pharmaq we focus on enhancing our customer’s experience by understanding their needs which we recognize vary between customers and which is why we have developed three different NFT models. It is the customer’s vaccination regimen – i.e. what combination of vaccine formulations are used to immunise their fish – that decides the appropriate model for their circumstances,” says Managing Director of PHARMAQ Fishteq Dagfinn Strømme. The NFT Fish Vaccination Machines Models The machines are compact and robust, and occupy a small footprint compared to similar machines on the market. In addition, capacity can be upscaled to suit bigger operations by joining two machines over a common assembly table. PHARMAQ Fishteq currently produces three models, the NFT 20, NFT 25 and NFT 30. All models are designed to deliver different combinations of all commercially available fish vaccines according to the following:


Pharmaq Ltd - PED.indd 40

Left: Dagfinn Strømme Above: The NFT Fish Vaccination Machine Top right: The sorting module splits vaccinated fish into three sizes which can be selected by the operator. If, occasionally, a fish has not been vaccinated it is sent down the fourth channel

12/04/2021 10:27:45

The jab that’s just the job

KEY BENEFITS So, what are the key benefits of moving away from manual vaccination and towards using the NFT suite of vaccination machines?

• NFT 20: Delivers one IP vaccine. • NFT 25: Delivers two IP vaccines through one needle, simultaneously. The vaccines can be of different formulations, such as water-based and oil-based. It comes with a specially developed duo-adapter that ensures that all individual doses are perfect mixes of the component vaccines. For special requirements, the NFT 25 can also be reconfigured to deliver three vaccines simultaneously in a single injection. • NFT 30: Delivers one or two IP vaccines. In addition, it has a special DNA intramuscular (IM) module that is capable of delivering vaccines that have been formulated to be administered through this route. All the models are capable of vaccinating 2.4 fish per second at full capacity, 8 500 fish per hour. This eliminates extra handling of the fish so shortening the time spent out of water and ultimately leading to better fish welfare and production economics. Less stress for both the fish and the operators! Facts about the NFT Vaccination Machines Currently, the NFT machines can be used to vaccinate the following fish species: • Salmon • Trout • White fish • Arctic charr • Sea bass • Tilapia The machines handle and vaccinate fish ranging in size between 120 mm and 250 mm (20-150 grams). They use a Machine Vision System to determine the inoculation site on each fish. This is achieved through image recognition software that has been specially developed to account for size and species in determining where the needle should be placed for each injection. Dose accuracy is an impressive +/- 2 %. Vaccinated fish can be sorted into three different size categories which can be set by the operator prior to vaccination. In addition, the machine has a channel for misplaced, undersized or rejected fish. All data pertaining to the number of vaccinates, size and distribution can be easily exported from the machine by e-mail. In addition, the machines have built-in warning and reminder systems to alert operators as to when important component changes are required as well as if there has been a fall in the pressure required to correctly inject the vaccines. The operational requirements of the NFT machines include a supply of water, electricity and dry, compressed air. Internet is also needed for access to software updates and on-line support. FF

focus on enhancing our customer’s “Weexperience by understanding their needs ”

Pharmaq Ltd - PED.indd 41

• Two NFT machines sharing a common fish table and four operators, have the capacity to vaccinate 17,000 fish per hour. This allows for fewer people on-site over a shorter period and, ultimately, better biosecurity. The high capacity also caters for large tanks that can be vaccinated in a single day – so there is less starve time required, less downtime and improved fish welfare. • Training of operators to become “super users” can be done without compromising the quality of injections; the machines also eliminate the risk of self-injection. • The machine can deliver up to three vaccines in the same operation, both intraperitoneal and intramuscular vaccines. Auto-sorting of fish in up to three sizes can be achieved in the same operation, eliminating extra handling of the fish, shortening the time spent out of water and ultimately leading to better fish welfare and production economics. • The high accuracy of both dose volume (+/- 2%) and injection site (+/- 0.3 mm) ensures consistently high-quality vaccination hour after hour, the whole day through.

NFT MACHINES Efficient and precise vaccination with comprehensive quality control features

For more information, please contact Pharmaq Fishteq: | +46 23 29 85 00 |


12/04/2021 10:28:13

Fish health and welfare

Far sighted


Remote technology means that vaccination on fish farms can be assessed even when in-person audits are restricted


he Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to the majority of farm visits last year. This spurred MSD Animal Health UK to develop new strategies to provide addi�onal support and ensure that best prac�ce could be applied when carrying out vaccina�ons, despite the restric�ons. A�er undergoing a rigorous trialling and tes�ng period, Claudia Marin, Aquaculture Field Technician at MSD Animal Health UK and Emily Underhill, Senior Technician and Fish Health Coordinator at Grieg Seafood, describe their experience of using Smart Glasses to carry out virtual vaccina�on assessments. First, why were Smart Glasses developed? “Even before the pandemic hit, we had been thinking about addi�onal


Smart glasses and vaccination audits.indd 42

tools and resources we could add to our portfolio to be�er support customers,” explains Claudia. “We s�ll believe face-to-face contact is extremely important, but we recognised that remote tools would prove beneficial as well. This is due to recircula�on aquaculture systems having high biosecurity standards, meaning frequent visitors can pose a disease risk. Addi�onally, many hatcheries are in very remote areas, so it can take upwards of five hours for us to reach them,” explains Claudia. “Usually, we would visit sites at least once during a vaccina�on event, so any tool we developed needed to allow us to maintain this level of support.” Smart Glasses are a hands-free, wearable device, which are controlled via voice command. Once the glasses are set-up, the user, whether that be a farmer, manager or vet, wears the device during vaccina�on events. These are connected to the MSD Animal Health team who can see, on their computer screen, exactly what the user is looking at. The team can write messages in a ‘chat’ func�on to the user which the device will then read out verbally through an earpiece. The MSD Animal Health team can hear exactly what the user says, meaning responses can be spoken rather than wri�en. “Normally, we’d be next to the farmers checking the fish to assess vaccina�on accuracy and carry out internal inspec�ons to see if the vaccine has been deposited correctly. With Smart Glasses, we simply see exactly what the user sees, they will then carry out the dissec�on and we will view this over the

Normally, we’d be next to the farmers checking the fish to assess vaccina�on accuracy

12/04/2021 15:47:24

Far sighted strategy

glasses providing our assessment and feedback in real-�me but remotely,” says Claudia. Emily Underhill, senior technician and fish health coordinator at Grieg Seafood, explains that when she was ini�ally approached by the MSD Animal Health team about whether she wanted to trial the Smart Glasses, she felt it was an opportunity worth taking. “Due to the restric�ons and our remote loca�on in Shetland, it’s been really challenging to get people into the hatchery. So the opportunity to carry out remote audi�ng, s�ll to the high level of face-to-face audits, really appealed to us. The camera sees exactly what you’re seeing, so the auditor can view the fish in great detail and thoroughly assess vaccina�on efficacy.” Emily feels that using modern technology is a great way for the aquaculture industry to con�nuously develop, and once you understand how this par�cular device works, it’s really easy to use. “Ini�ally, Claudia visited us to correctly setup the glasses and carry out training on how to use them. We were then able to take the support she gave us and use that prac�cally. The MSD Animal Health team has been very thorough in making sure we fully understand the technology before using it. This included carrying out a prac�ce audit before the actual event to make sure that when the �me came, the vaccina�on event ran smoothly.”

Smart glasses and vaccination audits.indd 43

As fish health and welfare is a key priority for Grieg Seafood, using Smart Glasses has enabled the team to maintain their high standards throughout these challenging �mes. “One of the great benefits of the Smart Glasses is that you are able to access immediate support from the MSD Animal Health technical team. In the past, it would take the best part of a day for someone to reach us, whereas with the Smart Glasses someone is able to connect with us within an hour and help us resolve an issue.” Looking to the future, when hopefully restric�ons are eased, Emily plans to con�nue using Smart Glasses alongside face-to-face support. “Although I don’t think Smart Glasses completely remove the importance of having someone present on-site, they do work really effec�vely and so are a good tool to use alongside in-person support. The fact that we have s�ll been able to carry out vaccina�on and pre-transfer audi�ng despite on-farm site visits not being possible has been really important. “For us, this has definitely shown what’s possible in the future and how we can make vaccina�on events easier despite being in such a remote loca�on.” Claudia explains that MSD Animal Health is planning to roll the device out to more customers who would like to u�lise this remote tool. “To use Smart Glasses it’s really essen�al to have good connec�vity, so if customers want to use the device, we will carry out a site visit first to pilot the glasses and check the connec�vity is good enough. Once we’ve checked this, we will then carry out a face-to-face training session with the customer to set-up the device making sure it is ready to go.”

Opposite: Claudia Marin Above Emily Underhill

For more information about Smart Glasses, look out for the latest episode of the Producing Healthy Salmon podcast series. If you’re interested in using the device, contact your local MSD Animal Health representative. FF


12/04/2021 15:48:01

Elanco – Advertorial

Update: Novel spinal deformities in Norway


n response to a complaint regarding an advertorial titled, “Vaccine Breakthrough” that Elanco placed in Fish Farmer Yearbook 2021, we wish to clarify that all the data and conclusions written in that advertorial are founded solely on experience in Norwegian salmon operations. One of the main references used for the advertorial was a review commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. The objective of the review was to verify one of the allegations made by various Norwegian farmers against compulsory PD vaccination in light of the side effects, in the form of cross stitch spinal deformities, they had experienced following the use of two oil-adjuvanted PD vaccines. The certified translation of the letter summarising the review is hereby presented in full:

Introduction In a letter dated 27 May 2020 from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries (NFD) to the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (VI), the NFD writes the following:

“With regard to instructions concerning the vaccination of fish against PD, it has emerged that the incidence of adverse events may be higher than previously thought. This has caused the Ministry to request a technical assessment from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. We make reference to the discussions we had with the Veterinary Institute regarding an introductory study to determine the incidence of adverse events and impacts on fish welfare (dive reference 19112399). We have attached to Veterinary Institute’s project outline” Reference is made to a project outline for the analysis of data from the aquaculture industry and vaccine companies dated 15 May 2020 from the Veterinary Institute. On the basis of one such analysis, the NFD asks the VI to assess how the vaccination order (the PD regulation, Section 7) will affect the welfare of vaccinated fish. The NFD also writes that the assessment should include results from other relevant research projects, including an ongoing project led by NOFIMA. A project group at the VI was established for the assignment on 24 June and the group has carried out a survey of existing information/data. All fish placed in the sea in Norway are vaccinated against the most common bacterial diseases. Most available PD vaccines are 1-component and therefore a different vaccine (typically 6-component) will always additionally be used. As of now, the following PD vaccines are available on the Norwegian market: MSD Animal Health • Norvax Compact PD vet (1-component, inactivated, oil-adjuvanted). Marketing authorisation (MA) August 2011, but on sale from 2009 under special registration exemption. • Aquavac PD7 vet (7-component, inactivated, oil-adjuvanted). MA February 2015, on sale from July 2015.

Pharmaq • Alphaject micro 1 PD (1-component, inactivated, oil-adjuvanted). MA November 2015, market access from April 2017 due to patent. Elanco • Clynav (1-component, DNA vaccine, nonadjuvanted). MA June 2017, on sale from January 2018 The project outline dated 15 May 2020 from the VI describes an arrangement where the VI has access to raw data from external stakeholders and processes these statistically. It became clear that most stakeholders are unwilling to obtain and hand over raw data for this purpose. Raw data is hard to derive meaning from compared to a report or presentation. Since adverse events in the form of spinal deformations are mostly found in harvest results, it can require a lot of resources to trace back to information on the vaccine used and the number of affected fish. Only one aquaculture company was willing to provide raw data that included all exposures over a given period using different vaccines. From the other companies we have processed data and the stakeholders’ own conclusions. A summary of the information we received, sorted by source, is given below:

Norwegian Medicines Agency (NoMA): Manufacturers of medicinal products are obliged to report serious events to the NoMA within 15 days of the event. Non-serious events are reported in regular reports (PV/AE cases), and for products which have been on the market for more than 5 years, such PV/AE cases are sent to the NoMA every 3 years. The Norwegian Medicines Agency summarizes the situation as follows:

“The Norwegian Medicines Agency recorded an increased incidence of adverse events for a new type of spinal deformity (“cross-stitch vertebrae” +/- connective tissue formation and melanin along the spine) in relatively large/harvestready salmon for the vaccines Aquavac PD7 and Alpha Ject Micro 1PD especially. On this basis, the Norwegian Medicines Agency contacted the manufacturers of these two vaccines for a more detailed assessment of the incidence and causation of these adverse events. (...) the information we have received indicates that PD vaccines may be involved in these “adverse events”, but that there are most likely to be multifactorial causes. According to Pharmaq, no deformities similar to those seen in Norway have been reported for their vaccine in the UK and IE. We have received a notification of adverse events for Clynav describing deformities, but the notification does not contain enough information to indicate whether this refers to “cross-stitch vertebrae”. Clynav was introduced onto the market in January 2018 and there is currently a limit to how many Clynav-vaccinated fish are harvested. “ “The Norwegian Medicines Agency cannot draw a final conclusion on the causal relationship


ELI LILLY NORGE AS - Elanco - PED.indd 44 Advertorial 6271.002 AQUA Fish Farmer

between spinal deformities and PD vaccines. However, we believe it is relevant that, as of today, information in the adverse events section of the summaries of product characteristics, if any, may indicate a causal relationship between the PD vaccines and “cross-stitch vertebrae”. New text for the adverse events section for Aquavac PD7 has been completed. Please refer to the attached updated SPC. The case for Alpha Ject micro 1PD is under consideration”. The VI has sent all the notifications from the NoMA’s records regarding PD vaccines from 01.01.2016 up to and including 13.08.2020, a total of 108 cases. The reports were received in PDF format and a lot of information is available as free text. To get an overview, we have counted the number of cases that contain information about “spinal deformations”, also called “spinal deformities” and “cross-stitch vertebrae”. There are several types of spinal deformities and the most accurate classification is achieved by means of x-ray analysis. The diagnosis of cross-stitch vertebrae is made by means of x-ray analysis and was registered for the first time at the NoMA in the course of 2017. In one of the first cases, the diagnosis was unknown and terms such as “new type of deformity” and the like were used. Some of the cases from 2018-2020 lack information on cross-stitch vertebrae and perhaps no x-ray analysis was performed. This means that the total number of cases of cross-stitch vertebrae may be higher. If one assumes that the medicinal product manufacturers have met their obligations and have the same threshold for reporting suspected adverse events to the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the number of cases for each product may give an indication of the scope. Of a total of 108 cases reported in relation to PD vaccines, 76 adverse event cases concern spinal deformities, of which 46 cases are recorded with findings of cross-stitch vertebrae (see Table 1). Table 1. Number of adverse events per PD vaccine, reported to the Norwegian Medicines Agency relating to spinal deformities or cross-stitch vertebrae, in the period 1.1.2016-13.08.2020. Vaccine

Cases of spinal deformity

Cases of cross-stitch vertebrae
















*One case that is not conclusive, possible findings of spinal deformities. Most recorded cases were for Aquavac PD7 (MSD Animal Health) and this is also the first of the newer PD vaccines and was made available in the summer of 2015. Alphaject micro 1PD (Pharmaq)

2021.indd 28

12/04/2021 10:30:28 06/04/2021 13:32



Update: Novel spinal deformities in Norway

came on sale in Norway in the summer of 2017 and Clynav (Elanco Europe Ltd) came on sale in the winter of 2018. Norvax Compact PD is the oldest PD vaccine and has been on sale since 2008. Adverse events in the form of spinal deformities are mainly recorded on salmon over 3 kg, often during quality control at the slaughterhouse. When reviewing the cases, in many cases it is challenging for the manufacturer of the medicinal product to obtain information on the proportion and number of affected individuals. In some cases, estimates are based on a reported decrease in % “superior” salmon, and information from the so-called “100-fish control”, where the reason for down-classification is registered (spinal deformations may be a category). At other times, private visits are made to the slaughterhouse with counts and the taking of sample for x-ray analysis, and in some cases it has not been possible to collect data or samples, and estimates have been based on oral information. The extent of spinal deformities varies from 70% (conservative estimate) to 1% of PD-vaccinated salmon in a slaughter pen, and the spread is greatest for cases with Aquavac PD7 (a total of 59 cases). In the 11 cases registered for Alphaject micro 1PD, there are two cases with >25% spinal deformities, while the remaining are 2-8%. For the 6 cases registered for Compact PD, there is 1 case with a maximum of 14% spinal deformities (here a low incidence of crossstitch vertebrae is indicated), in the other cases the incidence is 2.5-6%. For Compact PD, which had a monopoly in the PD vaccine market from around 2008 to 2015, no cross-stitch vertebrae were registered in 2017. Whether this is due to changes in production conditions in the last few years, or an increased awareness of spinal deformations and PD vaccination, is unknown. The vaccine manufacturer MSD Animal Health has recently updated its Aquavac PD7 package leaflet. Increased risk of adverse events in the form of cross-stitch vertebrae, especially when vaccinating fish under 1 year old (autumnrelease), is now included. It is referred to as a “common” adverse event, i.e. occurs in more than 1 but fewer than 10 in a hundred individuals. The vaccine manufacturer Pharmaq is in process of updating its package leaflet for Alphaject micro 1 PD. The fact that both manufacturers are changing their package leaflets indicates that they accept that the products are associated with the adverse event of cross-stitch vertebrae.

NOFIMA in the person of Dr. Grete Bæverfjord: Nofima is responsible for the ongoing FHF [Norwegian Seafood Research Fund] project 901430 “Prevention of cross-stitch vertebrae in farmed salmon”, together with INAQ, Pharmaq AS, Pharmaq Analytic and NMBU. The project started in August 2017 and will be completed in December 2020. Dr. Bæverfjord is leading the project and clearly states that there is a connection between some PD vaccines and crossstitch vertebrae. We have had access to 2 project presentations, 1 partial report from INAQ, and 2 scientific publications related to the project.

cross-stitch vertebrae. We have had access to a partial report, which includes salmon smolt released in the period 2015-2017. There is no indication how many aquaculture enterprises are included or which geographical areas the data are obtained from, but since only 2 vaccine types are included (Norvax Compact PD (mono PD) and Aquavac PD7 (7-valent PD)), this indicates that the facilities are from a SAV3-endemic region where PD vaccination is common. When it comes to delimitations in method, the report says the following:

“computed tomography” (CT), histology and scanning electron microscopy, injuries have been identified in an area of the bone tissue that may correspond to the growth zone at the time of smoltification (Holm et al 2020). It may coincide with the timing of vaccination, but primary and secondary causes of changes in growth at this stage are not discussed further in this work, and not at all in a similar article from the same project (Trangerud et al 2019)

“In order to identify possible links between production factors and the development of crossstitch vertebrae, it was necessary to determine whether or not fish had developed cross-stitch vertebrae. The development of cross-stitch deformation is shown to be difficult to detect from external observation and there is no simple diagnostic test available. (...) However, fillet analysis at a slaughterhouse, where one has growth of connective tissue in the fillet, as well as malformation in the spinal column will be indicative that spinal deformation may be due to cross-stitch vertebrae. “

We have been in contact with a selection of aquaculture enterprises and requested access to data on the mapping of adverse events related to PD vaccination. The first priority has been the companies Lerøy Seafood, Mowi and SalMar, which in letters and meetings with the NFD expressed concern about fish welfare during the mandatory PD vaccination. None of these companies has provided access to raw data, but SalMar and Mowi have submitted processed data in the form of summaries from field studies comparing harvested or harvest-ready, PDvaccinated and non-PD-vaccinated salmon:

To determine whether fish had developed malformations of the spine, information from 3 different sources was used: 1) Quality reports from slaughterhouses with further processing (N= 122 357 fish, 105 cages, 60 autumn release, 45 spring release), 2) Fillet analyses at the slaughterhouse under the direction of the project (N= 360 fish, 20 cages, 17 autumn release and 3 spring release) and 3) X-ray analysis under the auspices of the project (N=393 fish, 28 cages, 24 autumn release and 4 spring release). All 3 data sources show a significant relationship between vaccine type and malformations of the spine. The quality reports from processing facilities were well distributed between fish released in spring and fish released in autumn, and the analyses showed the timing of release had an obvious impact:

One company sent information from 3 facilities where they have held vaccination trials with a socalled “mark & mix” setup, i.e. the vaccine groups are labelled and mixed at the time of release into the sea and exposed to identical environmental conditions in the same cage unit. All 3 trials have been carried out fish under one year old (autumn-release fish). In facilities 1 and 2, there were two cages with a “mark & mix” setup, respectively with a 75:25 and 50:50 mixing of AquaVac PD7 (PD vaccine) and Alphaject micro 6 (non-PD vaccine). In total, findings of crossstitch vertebrae were recorded in 14.6% and 16.2% of sampled fish in the PD7-vaccinated group, compared with 6.7% and 0% in sampled fish in the Alphaject micro 6-vaccinated group. Level of severity is not indicated. In facility 3, the “mark & mix” setup comprised approx. 80:20 mixing of Alphaject micro 1PD (PD-vaccinated) vs. Alphaject micro 6 (non-PD vaccine) in two cages. Removal of 50 random fish/vaccine/ cage for x-ray analysis showed an average of 15% affected by cross-stitch vertebrae in the Alphaject micro 1PD-vaccinated group, compared to 3% in the Alphaject micro 6 group. Severe deformations were found in 10% and 2% of sampled fish in the micro 1PD group, and 0% and 2% of the micro 6 group.

“The predictions show that one can expect about 6% of fish to develop spinal deformation, if the fish is vaccinated with PD 7 and released into the sea in autumn. There is significant variation in the predictions associated with random impacts on the fish group, from in the region of 0 to 64% for autumn-release fish vaccinated with PD 7. There was also a negative impact from the interaction between spring-release fish and the PD 7 vaccine, suggesting that the PD 7 vaccine is associated with significantly less risk of developing spinal deformation in spring-release fish. Predictions for fish vaccinated with Norvax PD in addition to other vaccines showed a lower risk of developing spinal deformation compared to fish vaccinated with PD 7 , both for springrelease and autumn-release fish” (...) No link was found between the development of spinal deformation and the type of salmon strain, the number of non-medicinal lice treatments, or whether the feed contained glucan (used in immunostimulating feed).

• Field data and sample materials - analysis of risk factors (responsible party: INAQ)

• Experimental studies - verification of risk factors and mechanisms (responsible Nofima and Pharmaq). This work is still ongoing but it was orally communicated that the incidence of cross-stitch vertebrae in this study has been low.

Production data from various salmon producers have been collected to identify risk factors for spinal deformations and the development of

• By analysing vertebrae from salmon ready for harvesting, already categorised as “crossstitch” using

In addition, we have obtained information from 1 facility (2017 generation, autumn-release), where 2 cages of Aquavac PD7-vaccinated salmon and 7 cages without PD vaccine (unnamed vaccine) have been compared. The cages with AquaVac PD7 had a lower superior proportion, and during filleting, cartilage was recorded in 46% and 50% of the PD7-vaccinated fish (0-5% in the others). Cross-stitch vertebrae were confirmed in nine out of ten affected PD7-vaccinated individuals, and the level of severity was high. Two major aquaculture enterprises with experience of PD vaccination in the SAV3 zone have been asked to share data. We received the following statement by email from one enterprise:

“Our company (anonymised) experienced major problems with skeletal deformities and growth in 2015, 2016 and 2017 G in the sea (...) Main findings: Fish with the Aquavac PD7 vaccine had on average a risk of deformity 26%


ELI LILLY NORGE AS - Elanco - PED.indd 45 Advertorial 6271.002 AQUA Fish Farmer

Aquaculture enterprises

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Elanco – Advertorial

greater than fish with the other vaccine. The more days between vaccination and release, the less deformities. The higher the seawater temperature in the first 60 days in the sea, the more deformities. This is consistent with the hypothesis that autumn-release fish have the highest risk of skeletal deformities when using the PD7 vaccine”.

When comparing PD-vaccinated fish with non-PDvaccinated fish, the likelihood of spinal deformities when harvesting PD-vaccinated fish is 4.4 times greater. The model also indicated a positive significant association between spinal deformities and average weight at harvest, number of harvested fish per cage and smolt supplier, but the effect was much less than PD-vaccination.

The second enterprise sent a summary of findings after harvesting two autumn-2017 releases, vaccinated with Alphaject micro 1PD. The analyses showed that 7-8% of the fish had deformations associated with cross-stitches, but the damage was relatively limited.

There was no significant association between spinal deformations and timing of release (autumn or spring) as opposed to what was shown in the FHF project. One explanation might be that the FHF project mainly had harvest data from the SAV3 area, where there may be greater temperature differences between autumn and spring than further north. Modelling based on data from the SAV2 area predicted that approx. 4% of PD-vaccinated salmon and approx. 1% of non-PD vaccinated salmon can be expected to have spinal deformations at the time of harvesting. The FHF project did not include data from salmon without a PD vaccine, but predicted approx. 6% spinal deformations for Aquavac PD7-vaccinated salmon, with slightly greater variation than in our analyses. This shows that it is worthwhile collecting and analysing data from geographical and/or production-relevant areas where specific measures are implemented.

Aquaculture enterprises with experience of PD vaccination in the SAV2 zone (Trondelag) have also been invited to share data/information. One enterprise has been willing to share raw data in the form of % spinal deformities during harvesting control of all production units (cages) harvested in the period 2017 to the current date (from Autumn 2015 release). This has given the Norwegian Veterinary Institute the opportunity to analyse data from a total of 202 cages. The percentage of spinal deformities was based on sampling 2x100 fish per day for quality control and categorisation of reasons for downgrading. No data are available on further classification of deformities using x-ray analysis. The model demonstrated a clearly significant association between PD vaccination and spinal deformities (p<0.001). The dataset was unbalanced in respect of different PD vaccines, e.g. only 3 units with Clynav. Therefore, the association between different types of PD vaccine and deformities was inconclusive, for example, it cannot be concluded from these data that vaccination with Clynav resulted in an increased risk of spinal deformity. Figure 1. (Below) Proportion of fish with spinal deformities per vaccine type shown as a “Boxplot”. The line in the centre of the box is the median (the most commonly occurring % spinal deformity value), and the upper and lower wall of the box shows the area where 50% of the values are located. The 25% lowest values are located along the line under the lower wall and the 25% highest values are located along the line above the upper wall. Some of the boxes have N only equal to 2 or 3 and therefore have little information value.

In addition, we have obtained summaries of analyses carried out after complaints after harvesting of 1 site vaccinated with Alphaject micro 1PD from another enterprise in the Trondelag. In this case, a prevalence of 5-8% of fish with spinal deformities and connective tissue/cartilage was assumed, and the crossstitch pathology was verified at the harvest line using x-ray analysis of three selected individuals with deformities.

Pharmaceutical companies MSD markets the inactivated oil-adjuvanted vaccines Norvax Compact PD and Aquavac PD7. From MSD, the VI was sent a presentation shown at the specialist conference “PD TriNations 2019”. In the presentation from MSD, a selection of field observations is shown with samples at the time of harvest. There is a large variation in the incidence of different types of spinal deformations between different fish groups, also when it comes to autumn-releases vaccinated with PD7 (in accordance with the FHF project). This indicates

other unknown (production) factors that affect the risk of deformities developing, i.e. the problem is multifactorial. Furthermore, the following is summarised from 1 controlled study, testing different vaccines with and without a PD component on 1 autumn release in 2017: • Various categories of spinal deformations are recorded for all fish, irrespective of vaccine • Cross-stitch vertebrae were only observed in groups where the PD component was included in the vaccine • The cross-stitch vertebrae were not visible on the X-ray analysis until 2.5 months before harvesting • The addition of B-glucan in feed has no effect on development of cross-stitch vertebrae Pharmaq markets the inactivated oil-adjuvanted vaccine Alphaject micro 1 PD Pharmaq provided information that the company is in an ongoing process with NoMA of updating the package leaflet. They have informed their customers of the risk of adverse events when vaccinating autumn-release smolt. Otherwise, please refer to information provided to the VI in November 2019 under a confidentiality agreement. This information does not address adverse events to any significant extent and is consistent with information received from the NoMA. Otherwise, Pharmaq confirms: For the regions south of Hustadvika, the usage pattern for PD vaccines is roughly as follows: • Fish vaccinated with Clynav do not appear to be affected by spinal deformities and Clynav is the vaccine most used on fish less than 1 year old. • The oil-based, inactivated vaccines are most commonly used on 1-year-olds that are not at risk of the new type of adverse events. • Overall, approx. 98 % of all fish are vaccinated against PD in these areas. This is done on a voluntary basis without any instruction from the authorities. Assessment of the risk profile when using PD vaccines in the SAV 2 area must be seen in this context. • Several of the major producers who may be going to vaccinate in the SAV2 area have successively used the same PD vaccines in the SAV3 area on a voluntary basis. Elanco markets Clynav, monovalent DNA vaccine Approx. 18 million doses were sold in 2018 and 56 million in 2019. Elanco provides information that, so far, they have had 1 adverse event at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, but this is not yet conclusive. The VI has received a report from NOFIMA summarising the x-ray of 477 fish from 2 groups of autumn smolt vaccinated with Aquavac PD 7 and Clynav + AlphaJect micro 6 respectively:

Spinal deformities (%)





0 Alpha Ject Pentium Micro 6 Forte Plus (N=62) (N=3)

MSD Aquavac 6 (N=2)

Mixed no-PD (N=11)

Alpha Ject Micro 1 PD (N=74)

Vaccine type


ELI LILLY NORGE AS - Elanco - PED.indd 46 Advertorial 6271.002 AQUA Fish Farmer

Aquavac PD7 vet (N=38)

Clynav (N=3)

Mixed PD (N=9)

22% of Aquavac PD 7-vaccinated fish had crossstitching and 13% had severe disorder. The corresponding figure for the fish vaccinated with Clynav + AlphaJect micro 6 was 4% and 1% had severe disorder. The study cannot determine whether the impact of cross-stitching in the Clynav-vaccinated group is due to the PD vaccine or AlphaJect micro 6. This is because salmon vaccinated with standard 6-component vaccines may also have an incidence of spinal deformities with findings of cross-stitch vertebrae at the time of harvesting, but prevalence and severity appear to be low.

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Update: Novel spinal deformities in Norway

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority The Food Safety Authority has received exemption applications from Måsøval, Mowi, Lerøy, AquaGen and SalMar. In addition to their own arguments, many of the exemption applications are also supported by the letter “Statement from the Aquaculture Working Group in P06, the fish-health group” sent to the NFD on 15.01.2020. Key arguments include the lack of assessment of adverse events, the lack of a cost-benefit assessment, the PD vaccines are not approved for broodstock, it is not known how existing vaccines work against SAV2, technical and adverse event problems if one also wants to vaccinate against yersiniosis, and that the vaccination instruction is late in arriving, making it difficult to change vaccination programs in time. The VI makes the following comments: • It is true that there was little focus on the adverse events of the vaccines during the hearing process, but this was also not a major issue in any of the hearing bodies. To a greater extent, efficacy was demonstrated with the use of new vaccines and the possibility of combating PD. • It is true that no cost-benefit assessment has been carried out. • It is true that the current PD vaccines are not approved for broodstock, but neither are there any other vaccines with which to vaccinate broodstock in the meantime, and the vaccines are then used “off label” by the prescribing fish-health personnel making their own assessment of their use. • Information is available on how existing vaccines work against SAV2 in the form of presentations at various technical meetings, such as PD TriNation, Dublin 2015), but the data are not published in scientific journals. There are documented immunological cross-reactions between the different genotypes (Graham et al. 2014), and the type classification for SAV is based on minor genetic differences which are not necessarily reflected in differences that affect vaccine efficacy. For example, Clynav is based on the genotype SAV2, but the efficacy of the vaccine has been documented against SAV3. It is not unreasonable to assume that Clynav works as well against SAV2 as against SAV3. • No information is available on whether PD vaccination may affect the efficacy or adverse events of the yersiniosis vaccine (1-component). Apart from the specific “cross-stitch” adverse event, the general adverse event problems, but also the level of protection against yersiniosis, are likely to be more affected by the complex multivalent vaccine that will be administered at the same time as the yersiniosis component. However, it is possible that from a purely technical standpoint, it may be difficult to triple vaccinate against PD, yersiniosis and the remaining diseases in a single operation.

Summary of information received, the Veterinary Institute’s assessment: • The database available to us indicates serious adverse events in the form of spinal deformities of the type “cross-stitch vertebrae” in salmon vaccinated with inactivated PD

vaccines. These are Aquavac PD7 (MSD Animal Health) and Alphaject micro 1 PD (Pharmaq) which to a greater extent are associated with this type of adverse event. Other PD vaccines in the analysis are not associated or associated to a limited extent with spinal deformities. • However, the data material has weaknesses. In general, existing data and information from the authorities and some relevant players in the industry. The sources are the Norwegian Medicines Agency, a research project funded by the FHF, and data collected in various ways by aquaculture enterprises and pharmaceutical producers. Only one aquaculture enterprise has granted access to production data which has facilitated its own statistical analyses. This material can be used to indicate which variables in the dataset can be associated with spinal deformities and the strength of this association. However, we cannot say anything about causal relationships or risk factors other than those included in the submitted dataset. This indicates that the conclusions are uncertain and caution must be exercised. • The Norwegian Medicines Agency has often made available all relevant adverse event reports from 2016 up to the present day and this information has been decisive for the VI’s conclusions in the case. In the process involving MSD Animal Health and Pharmaq, agreement has been reached on updating the package leaflets of Aquavac PD7 and Alphaject micro 1 PD. In its conclusion sent to use by email, the Norwegian Medicines Agency says:

“The Norwegian Medicines Agency cannot draw a final conclusion on the causal relationship between spinal deformities and PD vaccines. However, we believe it is relevant that, as of today, information in the adverse events section in the summaries of product characteristics may indicate a causal relationship between the PD vaccines and “cross-stitch vertebrae”. New text for the adverse events section for Aquavac PD7 has been completed; please refer to the attached updated SPC. The case for Alpha Ject micro 1PD is under consideration”. • Calculations carried out in the FHF project 901430 show that it can be expected that approx. 6% of fish under 1 year old, vaccinated with Aquavac PD7, will develop spinal deformations, but that a significant variation can also be expected. Springrelease, Aquavac PD7-vaccinated smolt have a significantly lower risk. • FHF project 901430 has not conducted similar calculations for salmon vaccinated with Alphaject micro 1 PD. Information from several different sources, as well as own analyses from the SAV2 zone, indicates that the incidence of spinal deformations in salmon vaccinated with Alphaject micro 1 PD, is probably on a par with, or somewhat lower than, that for Aquavac PD7. • Salmon vaccinated with standard 6-component vaccines may also have an incidence of spinal deformities with findings of cross-stitch vertebrae at the time of harvesting, but prevalence and severity appear to be low. • Our own analysis of data from the SAV2 zone shows no difference in the risk of spinal deformities at the time of harvesting between autumn-release and spring-release fish. This inconsistency with the results of the FHF

• Adverse events have been used as a basis for applications for exemption from the vaccination order. Extensive administration of exemptions will weaken the purpose of the order and a high vaccination level in the area is necessary if vaccination is to contribute to limiting further the spread of PD. • A high vaccination level is particularly important as the PD vaccines on the market are believed to have moderate efficacy in the field. For example, there are a large number of PD detections in the SAV3 zone each year, even though the area has a high proportion of PD-vaccinated fish. Therefore, it is important that vaccination does not replace, but supplements, other biosafety measures. There is still too little experience in the field and field data to conclusively prove the effect of Clynav. • If Aquavac PD and/or Alphaject micro 1 PD is considered to have too high a risk of adverse events, especially for autumn-release smolt (under 1 year old), other PD vaccines are still available on the market and can be used. Norvax Compact PD has been associated with cross-stitch vertebrae, but to a much lesser extent than the above-mentioned vaccines (cf. FHF Project 901340). And apart from 1 adverse event case which is still not conclusive, no serious degree of spinal deformities has been reported in salmon vaccinated with Clynav. • Therefore, it should be possible to adhere to the vaccination instruction without adversely affecting the welfare of the fish to an extent greater than a normal vaccination with 6-component vaccines. (Norwegian Veterinary Institute signatories) Edgar Brun Dept. Director, Department of fishing health and fish welfare Eirik Biering Head of Section, Section for aquaculture, wild fish and welfare References Holm, H., Ytteborg, E., H0st, V., Reed, A. K., Dalum, A. 5., & Bæverfjord, G. (2020). A pathomorphological description of cross-stitch vertebrae in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L. ). Aquaculture, 735382. Trangerud, C., Bjørgen, H., Koppang, E. 0., Grøntvedt, R. N., Skogmo, H. K., Ottesen, N., & Kvellestad, A. (2020). Vertebral column deformity with curved cross-stitch vertebrae in Norwegian seawater-farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. Journal of Fish Diseases, 43(3), 379-389. Graham, D. A., Rowley, H. R., & Frost, P. (2014). Cross-neutralization studies with salmonid alphavirus subtype 1-6 strains: results with sera from experimental studies and natural infections. Journal of fish diseases, 37(8), 683-691.

Clynav, Elanco and the diagonal bar logo are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates. All other product and company names are trademarks of their respective owners. © 2021 Elanco PM-UK-20-0301


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project may be due to data being taken from different parts of the coast.

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Fish Health and Welfare

Looking after

lumpfish An easy-to-use scoring system will help fish farmers assess and safeguard the welfare of their cleaner fish BY DR SARA BARRENTO


ith a plump body and a unique appearance, the lumpfish is rarely seen in markets or shops outside Norway or Iceland. In Europe “lumpfish caviar” can be purchased from most supermarkets, but the species has also gained fame in the aquaculture industry in recent years as a cleaner fish to control sea lice in salmon farms. Every year 50 million lumpfish are used by salmon farmers in Europe to eat sea lice. Sea lice feed on the skin and mucus of the Atlan�c salmon, reducing their growth, impairing their health, and compromising their welfare. The losses caused by sea lice are enormous and amount to millions of pounds every year. Lumpfish are an efficient cleaner fish and can reduce the use of toxic an�-parasi�c drugs by 80%. Work carried out by our research group at the Centre for Sustainable Aqua�c Research (CSAR) since 2015 has made it possible to culture millions of lumpfish in cap�vity, but there is a need to develop tools to benchmark and improve their welfare.

Lumpfish welfare ma�ers Studies suggest that between 33% and 50% of lumpfish may die following deployment in salmon cages. Emacia�on, stress, diseases, and poor knowledge of their specific nutri�onal and habitat requirements are the principal challenges for lumpfish welfare (Gu�errez Rabadan et al 2021). The public and retailers generally support the use of lumpfish for controlling sea lice, but only if the welfare of cleaner fish is not compromised. The development of a suitable method for assessing lumpfish welfare is important, not only for iden�fying those ac�vi�es that compromise it,

Above: Sara Barrento Left: Lumpfish in hatchery tank at the Centre for Sustainable Aqua�c Research, Swansea University (photo @CSAR) Top right: Lumpfish Opera�onal Welfare Score Index explained (source: CSAR) Right: Lumpfish at the Centre for Sustainable Aqua�c Research, Swansea University (photo @CSAR)


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Looking after lumpfish

but also for quality assurance, and for restoring public confidence in the salmon farming industry and its ability to tackle the threat posed by sea lice. Although some welfare indicators exist for lumpfish, not all can easily be used by fish farmers. Our research group has recently developed and validated a rapid Lumpfish Opera�onal Welfare Score Index (LOWSI) in collabora�on with salmon and lumpfish farmers. “To be effec�ve, welfare indicators need to be prac�cal and easy to use, or they will not be used by fish farmers. The Opera�onal Welfare Indicators we developed for lumpfish were designed with farmers in mind: this index is rapid, prac�cal and easy to score”, notes Carolina Gu�errez-Rabadan, the lead author of the study. The welfare score index is based on the assessment of four visual indicators: skin damage, fin damage, eye condi�on and sucker deformi�es, and a fi�h indicator based on the body mass index (BMI) also known as rela�ve weight. The LOWSI uses a simple three-point Likert type score (this is a ra�ng scale o�en used in surveys) for each of the five opera�onal welfare indicators, with their sum ranging from 0 (best) to 10 (worst). Lumpfish can then be classified into three welfare classes depending on the LOWSI values: (A) Good welfare (< 3 points), (B) Moderately compromised welfare (3–5 points), and (C) Severely compromised welfare (> 5 points).

Welfare Watcher will provide a rapid assessment of lumpfish welfare and recommend a course of ac�on. This will help overcome an important knowledge gap, improve the welfare of cleaner fish, and reduce the problem posed by sea lice in salmon farming.” Dr Sara Barrento is Science Communica�on and Stakeholder Engagement Manager with the Centre for Sustainable Aqua�c Research, Swansea University. FF This work is funded by the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, Administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and Access2Sea: New Opportunities for More Competitive and Sustainable Blue Growth; funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the umbrella of INTERREG Atlantic Area with the project identification code EAPA_1059/2018 – ACCESS2SEA and SMARTAQUA: aquaculture beyond food is supported by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund. This work was developed at The Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research in collaboration with The Scottish Salmon Company; MOWI Scotland; The Cleaner Fish Company; Ocean Matters; and Three Sixty Aquaculture. For more information see

Making the score index even easier to use The score index was validated and published in the journal Aquaculture and it is freely available online. Scien�fic publica�ons are essen�al to validate a new procedure but are not the best way to show farmers how to implement it. So, our team is now developing The Lumpfish Welfare Watcher, a free web-based applica�on that will calculate the BMI (rela�ve weight) of lumpfish, based on the wet weight and total length entered by the fish farmer, and determine the propor�on of fish that are emaciated, underweight, and normal, as well as providing recommenda�ons for ac�on. The applica�on will also calculate the Lumpfish Opera�onal Welfare Score Index (LOWSI) based on the four visual indicators and the rela�ve weight. It will also calculate the probability of escape from salmon net pens with nets of various mesh sizes. The Lumpfish Welfare Watcher applica�on will be accessible via the user’s web browser. It will be accompanied by a user manual and an e-training course that will be disseminated via webinars and training sessions in the Autumn of 2021. Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, CSAR Director says: “The Lumpfish

Looking After Lumpfish - Fish welfare.indd 49


12/04/2021 15:45:22

Tecno Vit – Advertorial

More than a MICROCAPSULE AROTEC-G® offers an effective and sustainable strategy for the control of the ectoparasite Sparicotyle chrysophrii in gilthead seabream farming BY JOANA P. FIRMINO AQUACULTURE@FARMFAES.COM


ROTEC-G® is a microencapsulated func�onal product composed of a blend of garlic essen�al oil, carvacrol and thymol with numerous produc�ve, welfare and environmental advantages. These widely recognised compounds are well-known for their an�parasi�c, an�microbial, an�-inflammatory and an�oxidant proper�es, without any detrimental effect for the final consumer, or the environment. Besides, the exclusive microencapsula�on technology ensures the stability of the compounds and a sustained release throughout the gastrointes�nal tract. The efficiency of AROTEC-G® against bacterial and parasi�c challenges has been scien�fically proven through both in vitro and in vivo experimental studies. A trial with juvenile gilthead seabream fed with an AROTEC-G® supplemented diet for two months was performed in order to discover its effects upon the pathogen´s main portals of entry, i.e., mucosal �ssues, such as gills, skin, and intes�ne. Gills were par�cularly studied to evaluate the protec�ve effect of AROTEC-G® against the ectoparasite Sparicotyle chrysophrii, one of the main pathogenic agents affec�ng gilthead seabream farming in the Mediterranean. In this regard, AROTEC-G® inclusion in the diet promoted the modula�on of genes involved in immunity routes, redox processes, and metabolism in the gills. In par�cular, processes mediated by cells of the innate immune system, such as granulocytes, were preponderant. This poten�al immunoprotec�ve effect of AROTEC-G® in gills was corroborated by an in vivo cohabita�on challenge, in which fish fed with the product were subsequently exposed to S. chrysophrii for another month of feeding. The administra�on of AROTEC-G® decreased by 78% the total prevalence of the ectoparasite in gills, par�cularly affec�ng adult, juvenile and egg stages of the parasite (Figure 1). The effect of AROTEC-G® upon the skin was also studied. Results obtained from the analysis of the epidermal mucus revealed a significant decrease in stress biomarkers, mainly cor�sol, when animals were fed with AROTEC-G®, indica�ng an improvement in overall fish health condi�on and welfare. Moreover, the mucus from fish fed with AROTEC-G® also significantly inhibited the Figure 1 in vitro growth of pathogenic bacteria, par�cularly fish pathogens such as Vibrio anguillarum and Pseudomonas anguilliseptica (Figure 2). Those results were supported by the modula�on of genes related with immunity and secretory responses in skin. Similarly, according to the intes�ne analysis, the ac�va�on of granulocytes was also suggested to be the main actor of the mucosal immune response promoted by ARO-


Tecno Vit - PED.indd 50

TEC-G®. The compound did not affect fish growth performance or gut microbiota diversity, although subtle varia�ons in microbiota composi�on and func�onality were suggested to par�cipate in the modula�on of the intes�ne immune and an�oxida�ve profile observed in fish fed with AROTEC-G®. Gilthead seabreams fed with the AROTEC-G® supplemented diet did not show any intes�ne histopathological altera�ons, proving that AROTEC-G® administra�on is safe to be included in func�onal diets to improve fish mucosal health. Since the tradi�onal use of chemotherapeu�c agents to prevent and control fish diseases in aquaculture has been heavily cri�cised, the overall results of AROTEC-G® supplementa�on demonstrated promising poten�al for this product to be used as a sustainable prophylac�c tool in the health management for aquaculture farms. FF

Figure 1: Number of S. chrysophrii parasites per fish fed with the AROTEC-G® and control experimental diets (mean ± standard devia�on). Asterisks (*) indicate significant differences between dietary groups (p < 0.05). Adapted from Firmino et al. 2020 (h�ps://doi. org/10.1038/s41598020-74625-5). Figure 2: V. anguillarum, P. anguilliseptica, and Escherichia coli growth inhibi�on on skin mucus of gilthead seabream fed with a diet supplemented with AROTEC-G® and a control diet. Asterisks (*) indicate significant differences in bacterial growth between dietary groups (p < 0.05). Adapted from Firmino et al. 2021 (h�ps:// fimmu.2021.633621).

Figure 2

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AKVA group – Advertorial

Smart ideas

From net-cleaning ROVs to cleaner fish hides, AKVA can help keep your stock safe GOOD range offers both surface and sub-surface feeding op�ons to ensure that the correct nutri�on is reaching the cleaner fish, and this ensures both top health and high welfare standards. Feeding of cleaner fish is tricky and providing several methods ensures that every fish has a chance to get the nutri�on it needs to thrive. To protect cleaner fish from danger, it is cri�cal to provide good opportuni�es to return to safe feeding grounds and hides. The GOOD concept is based on solid competence and extensive experience and has been developed in close collabora�on with fish farmers. This also includes recapture tools that enable op�mal handling of cleaner fish during opera�ons which could compromise the welfare of the cleaner fish. To discuss any of these products, please contact Donald Fowler, Commercial Manager, AKVA group Scotland at or 07766367433 FF


ive years ago, AKVA group and the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) manufacturer Sperre launched the first remote free-flying net cleaning system. At the �me it was not uncommon to apply whatever pressure was available from the HP pumps onboard the service vessels to the nets, in many cases well over 200 bar. As it turned out, however, the combina�on of net cleaners using belts as propulsion crawling on the nets, and high pressure applied to the nets, resulted in significant wear and tear on the nets and net mesh. Today we know be�er. Remotely operated free-flying net cleaning systems were first introduced with the launch of the FNC8 (Flying Net Cleaner) at the end of 2016. It was the first of its kind in the world and has radically changed our en�re approach to net cleaning. With low running costs of £100-£150 per day for 12 hours of cleaning and quick cleaning �mes the FNC8 is also helping to reduce the stress on fish during the cleaning process. We are currently tes�ng a system for the collec�on of loose fouling par�cles caused by the net cleaning process and we are confident that we will have a good solu�on to this problem Above: The FNC8 is easy soon. This will enable the system to both clean nets efficiently and ento deploy and reduces stress on both nets and hance fish welfare during the cleaning process.

Feeding is “necessary to ensure working and healthy cleaner fish

AKVA group and OK Marine OK Marine, partnered with AKVA since 2015, is a world-leading supplier of cleaner fish equipment which can be used to enhance the welfare of all farmed fish. While cleaner fish can help to reduce the lice burden on salmon, improving welfare, it is important to remember that they also have their own welfare needs. OK Marine provide a full range including hides and feeding equipment through their GOOD concept. Feeding is necessary to ensure working and healthy cleaner fish. The

Akva Group (Scotland) Ltd - PED.indd 51

fish Top right: A typical installa�on on the barge for a FNC8 cleaning sta�on Right: OK Marine cleaner fish hides provide an excellent place for cleaner fish to rest and thrive


12/04/2021 10:36:29

Containment and anti-predator solutions

Seal strategies

Farmers can’t shoot seals, so how do they keep their fish safe? BY ROBERT OUTRAM


ne of the important functions of containment in aquaculture is to protect the fish in pens against predation by other creatures. The principal threat varies depending on where in the world the farm is sited – on Chile’s Pacific coast it is sea lions, in Australia it is sharks and in Scotland and Norway, seals. The options available to farmers in Scotland looking to protect their stock against seals are now more limited. Seal culling, which was available on a strictly controlled basis, is now virtually outlawed following changes to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protection and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020. These removed two grounds – for the purpose of protecting the health and welfare of farmed fish and to prevent serious damage to fisheries and fish farms – under which Scottish ministers can grant licences to kill or take seals. The regulations mean, effectively, that farmers can no longer shoot seals as a last resort.


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The regulations on acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs), which are designed to keep seals away from fish pens, have also been tightened up. All these changes on the part of the Scottish government have been brought in to ensure that exports of seafood to the United States can continue after 1 January 2023. This is the date from which the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) will apply, meaning that the US will not import fish from jurisdictions where marine mammals are not sufficiently protected. For farmers, however, the new regime presents a problem. The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation estimates there are more than

Above: Harbour seal in Scotland Top right: AKVA’s Polarcirkel EcoNet Right: Ace Aquatec’s predator control device

12/04/2021 15:38:15

Seal strategies

130,000 seals in Sco�sh waters, and they are intelligent and determined predators. For sites where seal preda�on is a problem locally, operators are looking to ensure that their nets are up to the job of keeping the seals out. Finlay Oman, Commercial Director with net supplier W&J Knox, says his company has been working on customised net solu�ons, though its partnership with Indian netmaker Garware Technical Fibres. These vary from nylon nets through to the patented, kno�ed HDPE (high-density polyethylene) Sapphire range. Oman says: “Sapphire Seal Pro has been revolu�onary in that it has provided a single layered solu�on to predator exclusion. The twine size required can limit the mesh size available, but with the average size of salmon

INTRO - Containment.indd 53

smolts forever increasing, this is generally not a problem. The Garware Sapphire range has been designed from the ground up for aquaculture, with single sided knots to minimise the poten�al of abrasion on the inside of the net and conversely, irritate the snouts of the seals on the outside with a raised knot profile. “The Sapphire range for aquaculture also benefits from a concept that Knox o�en refer to as ‘Locked Geometry Technology,’ where the ne�ng has inherent s�ffness and is also heat-set to keep the mesh wide open on the square, preven�ng it from relaxing back to the diamond orienta�on as woven. This significantly helps the reten�on of small smolts and cleaner fish who may readily exploit a relaxed nylon ne�ng that has pulled back into the diamond shape.” Garware has even invested in a mechanical device, known as the Aqua Terminator, that can be adjusted to replicate different types of predator a�ack, to put its nets through their paces. The robot, which boasts a fearsome set of jaws, can not only bite but also push and pull its target, simula�ng a real predator a�ack very convincingly. Oman adds that the roping, tensioning and weigh�ng specifica�on of an an�-predator net are of prime considera�on for suppliers and customers. He explains: “The inherent s�ffness of the Sapphire products restrict the effec�veness of seal a�acks, as it is not as easy to grab a handful of this material as it is for nylon or Dyneema. To date, Sapphire Seal Pro has been very successful at reducing stress induced mortali�es through seal a�acks and at the same �me almost eliminated breaches of the ne�ng. Where there is a will there is a way, and some sites have had challenges from dogfish nibbling on mortali�es in the base of the net, damaging the twines. In these instances, Ultra-Core is now being specified with further developments due to come to the market in the coming months.” Arthur Campbell, Team Lead, Exports with AKVA Group, says HDPE nets offer a good deterrent against predators although they can be less manoeuvrable, for example when they are being cleaned.

“theEven best

net needs the right tension


12/04/2021 15:38:54

Containment and anti-predator solutions

are one of “theCormorants biggest challenges ”

He explains: “HDPE is a bulkier net and can be harder to handle when li�ing, but a lot of the �me the larger farmers will be li�ing nets mechanically.” As well as net design and materials, he points out, the tension and mooring needs to be effec�ve in order for the net to provide proper protec�on: “Even the best net needs the right tension.” AKVA owns Norwegian netmaker Egersund, which makes a range of superknot, hexagonal ne�ng, and standard knotless ne�ng as well as a variety of kno�ed ne�ng. As part of the AKVA group, Egersund’s products are now being marketed to customers in Scotland too. The challenges for fish farmers at sea also have their parallels on land, as Paul Ma�erface of Collins Nets explains. Ponds and open fish farms on lands are vulnerable to o�ers – o�er fences, electrified or otherwise, can be necessary – and also cormorants. As he points out: “Cormorants are one of the biggest challenges for farmers and they are protected, so licences to shoot them are very limited.” Placing ne�ng over an en�re pond is not always desirable or prac�cal, so Collins is developing a range of alterna�ve or supplementary measures


INTRO - Containment.indd 54

such as fish refuges, so that the fish can take cover when predators approach. Meanwhile, although the type of ADDs that can be used to keep seals well away from farm sites has been restricted, there are devices now that meet the demands of the MMPA. Last month the SSPO confirmed that ADDs that have been shown to comply with both the requirements of Marine Scotland and US regula�ons are now being used by its members. Tradi�onal ADDs broadcast at constant frequency that seals find unpleasant, but this can also cause distress and even harm to other marine mammals such as whales and dolphins. Also, given �me there is a danger that seals will

Above: Cormorants feeding on salmon Left: Nathan Pyne-Carter. Top right: Salmon farm in stormy seas

12/04/2021 15:41:15

Seal strategies become accustomed to the sound and even use it as a cue that there is a food source nearby – this is described rather appropriately as the “dinner bell” effect. Suppliers such as GenusWave and Ace Aquatec have developed alterna�ve approaches that, for example, use “startle” technology that ac�vates only when seals approach, or frequencies tailored to deter seals without disorien�ng other marine mammals. Nathan Pyne-Carter, Managing Director with Ace Aquatec, says: “What’s important is the quality of sound that ADDs produce. There are two broad classes – the ‘acous�c barrier’ systems – where you can’t reduce the sound level or switch it off without le�ng seals through – and more up to date systems like ours. The quality of sound is such that the seals can’t get used to it. “The older type of devices are repe��ve and can lead to threshold shi� (deafness). Our own systems work on the principle of a s�mulus that elicits a visceral reac�on in the seals, either using electric fields or acous�c signal to cause seals to startle, learn associa�ons, and condi�on avoidance behaviours.” Ace Aquatec’s system has a low “duty cycle” – in other words, while older systems need to be in opera�on as much as 50% or even 100% of the �me, it can be ac�ve only as li�le as 1% to 8% of

the �me and s�ll provide effec�ve protec�on. The company is also working, with the aid of a grant from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), on exploring ar�ficial intelligence-led triggers, which could for example dis�nguish between dolphins and seals approaching a farm site. Seals are smart creatures – but the technology now being deployed to keep them away from their prey is even smarter. FF

Gael Force delivers on Gigha turnkey project IN early 2020, Gael Force Group was chosen as Principal Project Partner for the turnkey supply and installa�on of equipment and infrastructure for The Sco�sh Salmon Company’s new salmon farm at East Tarbert Bay, Gigha. The site has a 2,500 tonne produc�on capacity and six site staff. Sco�sh Salmon Company Area Manager, Zane Pretorius, explained: “Our core business purpose, and the exper�se we have in house, is focused on fish health and welfare and therefore it is more efficient for us to have moorings, electrical, mechanical and construc�on experts, such as Gael Force, build the physical farm to the specifica�on we require. Compliance, performance, and compa�bility issues can be dealt with at the design stage – meaning we can concentrate on rearing our fish.” Choosing Gael Force to project manage the turnkey installa�on had its benefits, as Pretorius explains: “The equipment is designed from the onset to be compa�ble, meaning that the final farm structure works

INTRO - Containment.indd 55

as an�cipated. Professional tradesmen building the site means that the build quality is of a high standard and any compliance, performance, and compa�bility issues are dealt with properly. Overall project progress and budget are easier to manage, as one supplier is in control of all aspects of the build.” Pretorius adds: “The Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the middle of the build, but we worked closely with Gael Force to put extensive measures in place that meant the project could con�nue safely.” The equipment supplied and in-

stalled at East Tarbert Bay included: SeaQureMoor system, SeaMate 350T feeding barge, SeaFeed technology, Triton 450 plas�c pens, SeaLight underwater LEDs, power distribu�on from barge to pens, consumable goods for opera�ons. The project, delivered on �me and within budget, created final build quality that delivered to The Sco�sh Salmon Company’s high expecta�ons. The one-supplier approach also meant no subsequent or ongoing compa�bility issues. Pretorius said: “Gael Force have comprehensively trained our team in the opera�on of all the equipment on site, meaning that the farm is operated efficiently and in line with build specifica�ons. Site induc�on and a�er sales technical support have been good, meaning handover and site opera�on went as planned. This in turn means less down �me and allows us to focus on maximising biological performance.”

One supplier is in control of all aspects of the build

Left: GaelForce mooring


12/04/2021 15:41:51

Gael Force Group – Advertorial

Raising the stakes

Supply partner Gael Force Group reveals how its sector-leading quality assurance programme and specialised SeaQureWeld process is taking fish pen manufacturing to the next level


he forces of nature in exposed farming loca�ons demand a robustly manufactured fish pen system that will take everything the harsh marine environment will throw at it. Fish farmers in exposed loca�ons expect heavy-duty pens on their site to be strong and long-las�ng. To exceed those expecta�ons, Gael Force Group has raised the stakes by inves�ng in a sector-leading quality assurance programme in the produc�on of its HDPE fish farm pens while also implemen�ng a series of design improvements. Well-known brand names in Gael Force’s resilient range of pens include SeaQurePen, Triton, Oceanflex, and Aquaflex. Circumferences range from 40 metres up to 200 metres. Developed over 30 years, these pen systems have been successfully installed in some of the harshest offshore marine environments all over the world. Over the past three years, customer demand for Gael Force’s pen systems has increased markedly. The Group’s pen manufacturing business, Gael Force Fusion, has more than doubled its highly skilled workforce. Produc�on and refurbishment works have expanded beyond the main base near Oban, with addi�onal manufacturing also taking place at Kishorn alongside longstanding remote build sites in Orkney and Shetland. But while customer demand has been developing, so too has Gael Force’s desire to deliver world-class levels of quality assurance. “We have completely raised our game by inves�ng heavily in several areas to reinforce our quality assurance process for the design and build of pens. The prime goal for us is to offer a best-in-class standard of manufacturing excellence and quality assurance that fish farmers should expect; the gold standard in the sector,” Group Produc�on Director Stephen Offord explains. Underpinning this unique quality assurance programme is an ISO 9001:2015 accredited quality management system and a purpose-built

QHSE so�ware pla�orm. The Group’s supply partner has also been recommended for NS9415 cer�fica�on by leading Norwegian cer�fica�on body, Aquastructures. These are cri�cal founda�ons for formalising strict pen build procedures, monitoring plant and machinery, and suppor�ng the con�nuous skills and training development. Strong, clear team communica�on is also cri�cal and the adopted QHSE so�ware enhances this, through use of automated email alerts. SeaQureWeld At the heart of the programme is SeaQureWeld – a stringent process for assuring the highest standards of quality in the bu� fusion welding of HDPE pipe joints during pen assembly. Tight Incoming Quality Assurance (IQA) checks are carried out with records retained on all cri�cal components and materials entering the produc�on area to ensure they meet high-quality standards. Gael Force has invested in highly specialised weld inspec�on equipment, which is used to perform quality tests on every weld bead pro-


Gael Force Group Ltd - PED.indd 56

“is SeaQureWeld on a different

level from anything we have seen in the market. It is going to offer customers added confidence in our pen building procedures

12/04/2021 10:38:05

Raising the stakes

weld “willAnnotunsatisfactory be permitted to leave the manufacturing area and will never make it into the pen assembly stage

duced from butt-fused pipe joints. The process is used over and above the requirements set out in the polyethylene standard WIS 4-32-08 which only requires the removal and hand testing of weld beads. The weld inspection equipment allows further in-depth testing and analysis of the external weld bead created during butt fusion and identifies defects at a higher level within the joint with pinpoint precision and accuracy. It logs all the detail related to each individual weld which is filed per project on the accompanying specialist database on the cloud, ensuring maximum traceability. In the unlikely event of a defect, the weld inspection equipment, which is controlled with a tablet and smartphone app, immediately detects this, and automatically triggers an email alert which is sent instantly to the supervisor and production manager. The section of pipe containing the defect weld is cut away and removed, and data is recorded in the app and sent for independent weld analysis. The weld is then completely re-done, and the testing process begins again until a pass result is returned on the next bead. An unsatisfactory weld will not be permitted to leave the manufacturing area and, most crucially, will never make it into the pen assembly stage. Continuous improvement in design The fully integrated SeaQurePen 500 and SeaQureLift winch system have been reinforced through design improvements identified from user feedback on the harshest sites. SeaQurePen is extremely tough and a force to be reckoned with. It is designed to reduce pen furniture and related maintenance, increasing reliability which in turn will lower farming costs. One recent design improvement is creating even more stability for the deck and overall pen structure, with the design of heavy-duty saddle welded stops to prevent movement of the base units on the 500mm floatation rings. The SeaQureLift winch, designed for many years of reliable service, has undergone design improvements too, with additional protection to the winch motor which is rated to IP69K,

Gael Force Group Ltd - PED.indd 57

the highest level international standard covering protection against environmental factors. Motor terminals are potted with a compound to prevent water ingress and moisture. On-pen installation of electrics has been hugely simplified with the removal of junction boxes on winch installations which means an improvement in reliability and reduction of clutter on the wide walkways. This significant design change also means an electrician is no longer required to carry out an on-pen installation. A frame reinforcement solution has also been designed to improve winch stability on the pen’s deck under the heaviest of loads. Reputation Built on Trust With its robust quality assurance programme and latest design improvements, Gael Force is setting a new benchmark for the aquaculture sector. Stephen Offord says, “SeaQureWeld is on a different level from anything we have seen in the market. It is going to offer customers added confidence in our pen building procedures. Our team, to their credit, have worked extremely hard to embed our robust quality assurance process into their daily routines and we are seeing that pay off for our customers”. FF

Above: Coloured grid covers help clearly define these critical connection points on SeaQurePen to aid staff onsite during operations, and sometimes during poor weather days. Far left: Gael Force was principal project partner for turnkey supply and installation at The Scottish Salmon Company’s site at East Tarbert Bay, which included 12 Triton450 pens. Left: Gael Force Triton 450 pens are towed out to a fish farm near Mull


12/04/2021 10:38:54

Processing and traceability

Taking back


One salmon farmer has found a way to ensure quality and flexibility through investing in its own dedicated fish processing facility



processing plant in Dingwall which had been mothballed for some years is now employing around 60 people, thanks to investment by salmon farmer Loch Duart. The move to set up its own processing capability means the Loch Duart can now have full control over the quality of its product, and can be more flexible in how it serves its customers. As Russell Leslie, General Manager at the plant explains: “It’s about closing the circle, allowing us to take control of our process from egg to customer. Offering our customers op�mum freshness post-harvest. Having full control of our process from egg to fork allows us to have a greater degree of flexibility in the offerings to our customers that previously we were not able to do.” The plant had previously been operated by the Edinburgh Salmon Company (ESCo), which carried out contract processing for Loch Duart among other fish farmers, but it was closed at the end of 2018. The site remained vacant from 2018 un�l 2020, when Loch Duart made the bold decision to purchase the site in order to serve its customers. Russell recalls: “In 2020, the Dingwall site was an empty shell. A bespoke engineering project commenced to ensure the plant was ready for seamless processing opera�ons inclusive of a semi-automa�c gu�ng line and integrated ice plants. We’ve gone from five people at the set-up stage to 60 staff currently working at the plant.” He adds: “Loch Duart started processing in August 2020 and, by October 2020, we had achieved various third party accredita�ons including the pres�gious French ‘Label Rouge’ standard and the BRC (Bri�sh Retail Consor�um) scheme under which we were awarded AA grade status.


INTRO Processing and Traceability.indd 58

This allows our customers to have confidence in the products we offer.” Loch Duart also carries out third-party processing for other salmon and trout framers located around the islands and west coasts of Scotland. The new processing plant has massive poten�al for Loch Duart and its future growth plans, Leslie says. Mowi is also inves�ng in processing, with a plan to upgrade its Blar Mhor processing facility in Fort William, to a capacity of more than 80,000 tonnes. The company has promoted Sco� Nolan to the role of Processing Director, to oversee the expansion. The move follows a strategic review in 2019 which considered alterna�ves including construc�ng a new build at an alterna�ve loca�on, before op�ng to upgrade the Blar Mhor site. The planning process will start in the coming

Left: Loch Duart Dingwall factory; Loch Duart salmon boxes Above: Sco� Nolan, Mowi Opposite from top: Skaginn’s Automa�c Tub Handling and Infeed System; Petra Baader

12/04/2021 15:32:28

Taking back control weeks with a view to building work star�ng in 2021, Mowi said. The upgraded facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art robo�c technology for handling and grading salmon and, Mowi said, much of the work will be undertaken without closure of the facility. Comple�on is expected in the second half of 2022. Sco� Nolan was previously Processing Development Manager for Mowi Scotland, and his experience includes senior roles in Australia with Huon Aquaculture and Aqua�q. He has been closely involved in developing the Blar Mhor plans and as Processing Director will oversee all harves�ng and processing opera�ons. Ben Hadfield, Chief Opera�ng Officer for Mowi in Scotland, Ireland and the Faroes, said: “Demand for premium Sco�sh salmon remains strong and is expected to increase year on year. Mowi has been independently ranked as the world’s most sustainable animal protein producer and expansion at our Blar Mhor facility will reduce packaging and plas�cs – key fundamentals that increase consumer confidence in our salmon. We are very pleased with Mowi’s Board decision to invest further in our farming and processing opera�ons in Scotland.” A great quality product and sustainable provenance are important for consumer confidence, but this also needs a workable system

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It’s about closing “ the circle, allowing us to take control of the process

of traceability to ensure that the food on your plate is what the label says it is. As Sandy Neil discovers (see feature, page 62), guaranteeing the origin and “chain of custody” for animal protein is cri�cal, but there is no single accepted system for doing this. Meanwhile, processing specialists have not been standing s�ll. Earlier this year, processing machinery manufacturer BAADER completed its takeover of Icelandic processor Skaginn. Food processing machinery supplier BAADER has completed its acquisi�on of Icelandic compe�tor Skaginn 3X. The deal was announced in October last year. BAADER, based in Lubeck, Germany, said it had taken a majority stake in Skaginn in order to combine its own manufacturing capability with Skaginn’s innova�ve cooling,


12/04/2021 15:33:13

Processing and traceability

freezing and processing exper�se. The two organisa�ons will now work towards crea�ng an integrated global sales force. BAADER said exis�ng sales contracts will con�nue in order to ensure con�nuity and there were no workforce reduc�ons planned for either business. Petra Baader, Execu�ve Chairwoman of BAADER, said: “Our overall mission is to be the one go-to partner for customers within the fish industry, as we have done for over 100 years. Our aim is to provide and service innova�ve stand-alone equipment and system solu�ons within all major segments of fish that are best in class, based on strong engineering and deep-rooted knowledge of the industry.” As well as providing machinery for conven�onal processing plants, BAADER is increasingly enabling processing on board vessels at sea, allowing fish to be processed with a maximum degree of freshness. BAADER’s compe�tor, Belgian company Steen, is also con�nuing to develop its offering, and last year it brought out a “second genera�on” of skinning machines. Improvements to the company’s original models are keeping it ahead of the game in rela�on to current health and hygiene regula�ons. Both the ST700T table skinner and ST700V automa�c skinning machine from Steen have knives which can be set and locked at different cu�ng heights so more fish can be processed on the same machine to enable deep skinning. In addi�on, the machines can be dismantled so that hard-to-reach areas are exposed for easier and more thorough cleaning. Of course, processing needs people as well as machinery. Scotland’s seafood industry has launched a recruitment drive to fill vacancies in the processing sector. The campaign, with the slogan “Sea A Bright Future”, has been running across print media, digital and radio. Seafish is collabora�ng with industry body the Sco�sh Seafood Associa�on to show the

Our overall mission is to be the one “go-to partner for customers within the fish industry ”


INTRO Processing and Traceability.indd 60

Above: Richard Stephen, Thistle Seafoods Below: Tabletop Skinner from STEEN

wealth of opportuni�es available in the sector to help a�ract people looking to start, progress or change their career. In recent years a significant propor�on of the UK’s food processing workforce has been made up of European na�onals, but both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have now restricted the available pool of talent from the European Union. More than 8,400 people in Scotland currently work in the seafood industry, which is worth £1.6bn. There are currently vacancies from entry to senior level, on the factory floor, in offices or in laboratories. Skill sets that are in par�cular demand across the sector include engineering and food technologists. Ryan Sca�erty of Thistle Seafoods, comments: “We are always on the lookout for good engineers to join us and there are many transferable skills from across the oil and gas industry, or those leaving the Armed Forces for example that we would hope to a�ract. Similarly, food technologists are also in high demand and may be suitable for those in the hospitality sector looking for a new challenge.” Richard Stephen, Engineering Manager with Thistle Seafoods, said: “I’d always been interested in mechanical work and fixing machines but I went straight into the workforce from school and didn’t have the opportunity to work in that area. But when I was working in the factory and the chance came up to move to the engineering team, I put my name in straight away and I haven’t looked back.” Jimmy Buchan, CEO of the Sco�sh Seafood Associa�on, said: “The seafood processing sector is vibrant, unlike some other industries just now, and offers a diverse range of career op�ons within both large and small companies. “There are huge opportuni�es for people to go far in the seafood industry if they show the right ability, ambi�on and enthusiasm. This campaign seeks to shine a light on that and put a career in the sector into the hearts and minds of those looking for an exci�ng new challenge.” FF

12/04/2021 15:34:39

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Busy day in the life of Mowi’s Loch Alsh farm

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INTRO Processing and Traceability.indd 61


01778 392014 61

12/04/2021 15:35:34

Processing and traceability

What’s on your plate?

Trust in the food industry is increasingly linked to verifiability BY SANDY NEIL


t was the biggest food fraud of the 21st century. The horsemeat scandal started to emerge in late 2012, when Ireland’s food safety watchdog bought a box of beef burgers from an Irish branch of Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain. The pack of Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burgers was just one of 27 beef burger products that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) had purchased from 10 major retailers for gene�c tes�ng. It was a rou�ne inspec�on, following earlier checks on the authen�city of chicken fillets and smoked wild and farmed fish. In 2011, the year before the horsemeat scandal, the FSAI had inves�gated fish labelling, sampling fish and fish products from restaurants, takeaways, and retail premises. “Most consumers rely on product labels to iden�fy the fish species in food products, par�cularly where the final product is highly processed or presented as smoked and/or ba�ered,” the FSAI explained. “Accurate food labelling also facilitates the rapid and efficient traceability of foods from producer to consumer, where risk management measures such as product withdrawal or recall are required.” The results of this survey were shocking enough. “Almost one fi�h of the products tested were mislabelled,” the FSAI concluded: “All but one of the non-compliant samples were sold as cod, but were actually found to contain pollock, smelt or other fish species.” The FSAI had deployed DNA profiling called “real-�me PCR”, most notably used in criminal forensic inves�ga�ons, to differen�ate between animal species present. In 2009 the FSAI had prosecuted an Irish food business operator for misleading consumers by labelling salmon


Traceability - Sandy.indd 62

Almost one fi�h of the products tested were mislabelled

products as being produced from wild salmon, when in fact gene�c tes�ng demonstrated the products were farmed salmon. Now the FSAI turned the same successful technique to beef burgers. The results exploded into the news headlines in January 2013. Out of the 27 beef burger products, 10 bought from Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi, and Iceland tested posi�ve for horse DNA. None of the labels listed horsemeat as an ingredient. All but one of the 10 contained equine DNA at low levels – except for the Tesco Everyday Value Beef Burger, which had 29% horsemeat rela�ve to the beef content. The burgers had been on sale in Ireland and the UK. It would be hard to overes�mate the impact this test had, in two popula�ons which mostly viewed horses as pets. Sales of frozen burgers fell by 43%, and frozen ready meals by 13%, in the next month. Not only was trust in retail giants shaken, but also trust in Irish beef. Tracing back the supply chain, the FSAI found all 10 of the beef burger products with horse DNA were produced by two plants in Ireland, and one plant in the UK, which all denied knowingly supplying horsemeat. Tracing it further

12/04/2021 15:21:32

What’s on your plate?

back, the FSAI was “sure [the contamina�on] came from a Polish filler product, which should have been all beef but, in this case, the Polish filler product transpired to be a mixture of beef and horse off-cuts,” said Catherine Brown, Chief Execu�ve of the UK’s food safety watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Ireland’s beef industry was in the clear, said Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Meanwhile in the UK, the Food Standards Agency had instructed the industry to carry out its own tests as a ma�er of urgency, which revealed more horsemeat in products like lasagne and spaghe� Bolognese. The European Commission also requested a pan-European tes�ng programme, which showed 5% of the beef products tested on sale in EU Member States contained horsemeat at a level above 1%, with some countries finding up to 13%. Criminals were suspected in the subs�tu�on, giving even more cause for concern, said EFRA: “It seems improbable that individuals prepared to pass horsemeat off as beef illegally are applying the high hygiene standards rightly required in the food produc�on industry.” Could such a fraud be perpetrated with seafood now? The horsemeat scandal was almost a decade ago, and, since then, supermarkets and big brands in Europe have been raising their game, Professor Alan Reilly of University College Dublin’s Ins�tute of Food and Health told The

Traceability - Sandy.indd 63

Opposite: DNA strand; Smelt fish (some�mes subs�tuted for cod) Above: Horse and cow, ‘Easily confused’ Below: ASC logo; Fishing trawler

Guardian in March 2021. “It woke the industry up to the fact that they were being duped. They weren’t checking the authen�city of products, but everybody checks them now, and when you’re purchasing from a trusted supplier, they will have to have a programme in place for vulnerability assessment. That’s all been integrated into contracts.” Seafood is among the most interna�onally traded food commodi�es worldwide, o�en through complex and opaque supply chains. Much of the global catch is transported from fishing boats to huge transhipment vessels for processing, where mislabelling is rela�vely easy and profitable to carry out. There is a considerable economic incen�ve to sell low-value fish in place of more popular and expensive species – and even more money to be made “laundering” illegally caught fish, said Rashid Sumaila, a fisheries economist at the Ins�tute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of Bri�sh Columbia. Sumaila calculated in a 2020 study that between 8m and 14m tonnes of fish are caught illegally every year. “That’s like 15 to 20 million cows being stolen every year,” in terms of weight, he said. The risk of ge�ng caught is low because monitoring and transparency is weak along the seafood supply chain. “People can make a lot of money doing this,” said Sumaila. Others lose out. Fish laundering results in an economic loss of $26bn–$50bn (£19bn–£36bn) a year, Sumaila’s study concluded, as illegal or fraudulently labelled fish undercuts the legal industry, making it difficult for honest players to compete. How can seafood consumers know that what they’re ea�ng is what they’ve paid for, and how can seafood producers assure that their product is authen�c? There is no universally acceptable defini�on for “traceability”. Although legal requirements, interna�onal standards and private voluntary standards require traceability in one form or another, none is prescrip�ve in the way it is to be achieved. The blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label for wildcaught fish and seafood, and the green ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) label for farmed products, provide assurances of authen�city and provenance, said Seth McCurry, the UK & Ireland commercial manager for the MSC. These products will have followed the MSC chain of custody standard, he says, “which ensures that the product can be traced back to a cer�fied fishery or farm”. About 38,000 sites around the world carry MSC cer�fica�on, from supermarkets, fishmongers, hotels and restaurants to processors, distributors and warehouses. The MSC carries out DNA tes�ng of its affiliated products. “Mislabelling rates are less than 1%, which is pre�y encour-


12/04/2021 15:22:28

Processing and traceability

aging,” says McCurry. The MSC’s most recent study, published in the journal Current Biology in 2019, sampled 1,402 products and 27 species of fish, sourced from retailers across 18 countries. Of the 360 UK products tested, 354 were correctly labelled.


Traceability - Sandy.indd 64

Currently the ASC is proposing changes to its Chain of Custody module – the standards that ensure that the origin of seafood products is recorded and cer�fied. “ASC is expanding its Chain of Custody requirements to strengthen its supply chain assurances to buyers and consumers, and to be�er address the unique nature of farmed seafood,” the council explained. It launched a consulta�on in March on the proposals. Many new technologies are being deployed in the fight against fish fraud. In 2018 Loch Duart, a salmon farming company based in the Hebrides and Sutherland, teamed up with Oritain, experts in scien�fically proving the origin of food products, to prevent food fraudsters from passing off other salmon as Loch Duart’s. Oritain’s tes�ng measures trace elements that occur naturally at each farm and are absorbed by the salmon raised there. Further analysis creates a unique fingerprint that is then used to verify the origin of the fish. The process allows Loch Duart to audit at any stage in the supply chain and determine exactly where the salmon being tested originates from. Alban Denton, Managing Director of Loch Duart, said: “If another salmon is ‘passed off ’ as ours, consumers are being both exploited and misled. Our distributors have told us that it happens. We’re partnering with Oritain to ‘police’ the supply chain. We’re determined to do everything we can to protect our world-renowned brand, and ensure that when people ask for Loch Duart salmon they can be completely certain this is what they are ge�ng.” In Canada, Dane Chauvel, co-founder of Organic Ocean Seafood in Vancouver, is pioneering DNA barcoding to show the origins of the company’s wild-caught salmon. The DNA barcoding, developed at Ontario’s University of Guelph, involves sequencing a short, specific sec�on of a

12/04/2021 15:23:25

What’s on your plate?

People know more “ about the provenance of the wine they drink than the seafood they eat

particular gene from a sample, and comparing that with a library of barcodes from known species. The fish were identified when caught and tagged with a unique ID, including their species name, to track them during processing. Chauvel can prove the salmon in his hands is a wild salmon, because the fish has been included in a random DNA testing programme. “Without telling us, someone from Guelph shows up and takes random samples from here,” Chauvel explains. The samples are sent to a lab at Guelph, and the results posted on Organic Ocean’s public website. Letting a third party publish its findings online enhances transparency. Chauvel comments: “I hope using DNA becomes more commonplace in the industry. It’s been a great business advantage for us.” In Norway blockchain, a digital record of transactions, is also being deployed. The name comes from its structure, in which individual records, called blocks, are linked together in single list, called a chain. Each transaction added to a blockchain is validated by multiple computers on the Internet. Last year in June, the Norwegian Seafood Association (NSA) announced a partnership with IBM and technology provider Atea ASA using blockchain – the technology that underpins bitcoin – to create a transparent, accountable record of farmed salmon from sea to dinner plate. Information is gathered on how salmon are bred, stored and shipped, which customers

can then access by scanning a QR (“quick response”) code: a “two–dimensional barcode” capable of storing much more data than standard barcodes, that can be accessed instantly. Using blockchain will help Norway’s producers safeguard their reputation and stop inferior products being faked as Norwegian, according to Espen Braathe, an executive at IBM Food Trust Europe. “When you sell a fresh, clean product, it’s really important you produce as much evidence as possible,” Braathe said. The initiative should allow Norwegian farmers to obtain higher prices for their fish, said the NSA’s CEO Robert Eriksson. The target is for each member to trace as much as 40% of their fish population by 2025, according to IBM. “It really exemplifies very well how a solution like this could work to introduce trust into the value chain and the industry,” Atea CEO Steinar Sonsteby said. For retailers, “they want to be 100% sure that what they are buying and selling on is something that they can be 100% behind.” So has fish fraud diminished in the decade since the horsemeat scandal? No – if anything, it’s got worse, claimed a report in March this year. According to a Guardian analysis of 44 recent studies of more than 9,000 seafood samples from restaurants, fishmongers and supermarkets in more than 30 countries, 36% were found to be mislabelled, “exposing seafood fraud on a vast global scale”. In one study using DNA analysis, which compared sales of fish labelled “snapper” by fishmongers, supermarkets and restaurants in the UK, US, Canada, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, researchers found mislabelling in about 40% of fish tested. The UK and Canada had the highest rates, at 55%, followed by the US at 38%. Oceana, an ocean conservation NGO which carried out nearly 20 investigations of its own into mislabelling, also did a global review in 2016 of 200 studies from 55 countries. This found on average that one in five fish sampled from fishmongers, supermarkets and restaurants was wrongly identified. The situation does not appear to be improving. In 2019, Oceana found 47% of the samples it tested from food retailers and restaurants in six Canadian cities were mislabelled. “The global seafood industry is dysfunctional,” said Donna-Mareè Cawthorn, a researcher at the University of Mpumalanga in South Africa, whose 2018 study found that more than 80% of samples sold as snapper in markets and restaurants in various cities in the UK were improperly labelled. “People know more about the provenance of the wine they drink than the seafood they eat.” FF Opposite: Loch Duart farmed salmon Left: Snapper fish on ice

Traceability - Sandy.indd 65


12/04/2021 15:24:42

Training and education

Distanced learning Despite the challenges of the pandemic, training in aquaculture continues to be a popular choice


ast month, two aquaculture trainees were recognised for their achievements at Lantra Scotland’s ALBAS 21 (Awards for Land-based and Aquaculture Skills) event. Callum Duggan, a freshwater technician with Cooke Aquaculture, won the Aquaculture Learner of the Year category, a pres�gious CARAS award and was the ALBAS Overall Runner-up. Guy Tindall, a marine senior husbandry technician with Grieg Seafood Shetland, was Aquaculture Learner of the Year Runner-up. Callum Duggan has been studying through a Modern Appren�ceship SVQ Level 7 (HNC) in Aquaculture, through the NAFC Marine Centre. He said: “I was surprised and grateful to be nominated for an ALBAS. I’m relishing my current role helping run the site, as I’ve always been interested in fish management. I really enjoy my role and take sa�sfac�on from the site running smoothly, with progress and improvements being made.” Lantra is a charity working to ensure that the UK’s land-based, aquaculture and environmental conserva�on sector a�racts and supports the skilled new entrants and workers that it needs. Dr Liz Barron-Majerik MBE, Director of Lantra Scotland, says that training during the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for trainees and providers, but aquaculture con�nues to generate a lot of interest as a career. She says: “Aquaculture is unique among our sectors though, in that there is no college based, full �me course that prepares candidates for work in Aquaculture, which has pros and cons. It can be hard for new entrants to know what to expect, but on the plus side, they are earning while they are learning, and that is very a�rac�ve indeed. So essen�ally all new entrants (unless they have studied outside of Scotland) learn


INTRO - Training and Careers.indd 66

on the job and are supported by the company training programme through programmes such as the Modern Appren�ceship and the rela�vely new Technical Appren�ceship. “The la�er in par�cular is a great way to support and retain those within Aquaculture, and in the future I would like to see higher level appren�ceships on offer to other sectors such as Agriculture and Forestry. Certainly Aquaculture is leading the way in this regard!” She adds: “There is certainly an interest in careers in this sector, but as with some of the other sectors that we support, we need more! This is why we are keen for more of those working in the sector to register as STEM Ambassadors, so that every school can access informa�on about the sector and the diverse range of skills that the Aquaculture industry needs.” The Ambassadors’ role is to bring their sector to life talking about everyday experiences at careers events, classroom lessons, STEM-focused events and workshops for teachers and career influencers. Barron-Majerik adds: “We also have our own fantas�c Aquaculture Industry Champions who are helping us spread the word and we have created an interac�ve careers map (at www. to help those considering a career to find out more about the op�ons available.” Stuart Cannon is Managing Director and Owner of Kames Fish Farming, a trout farmer on the west coast of Scotland. He says training for staff at Kames has con�nued through the pandemic, albeit with extra challenges. He explains: “There have been some difficul�es, for example indoor classes were cut and more training had to take place online. Boat training has been OK, generally.” Training is not just for new recruits – at a farm site, staff need to renew their training, typically every four to five years, and there is some concern that if regular updates have been delayed, training when it comes could require more �me and therefore cost more. Recruitment has not been a problem over the past year, Cannon says: “It’s been good – salaries in the sector are a�rac�ve. The work is hard and it can mean long hours during a harvest, but the staff are willing!” The NAFC Marine Centre, based at Scalloway,

Left: Callum Duggan Opposite from top: NAFC; Guy Tindall; Kruger Kaldnes had a great response to its call for engineering applicants

12/04/2021 15:17:50

Distanced learning

Shetland, is one of the leading centres for aquaculture training and educa�on. Stuart Fitzsimmons, sec�on leader for aquaculture training, says the Centre has adapted to Covid-10 restric�ons: “We have had good uptake for online courses to ensure students are comple�ng cer�ficated courses such as fish welfare that they would normally a�end face to face training. “We have adapted the MA/SVQ direct observa�on/evidence collec�on using the SQA [Sco�sh Qualifica�ons Authority] recommenda�ons for video evidence submission to ensure no student’s appren�ceships are delayed. We envisage recommencing site visits when travel restric�ons are eased and it is safe for staff and students.” The Centre is affiliated with the University of the Highlands and Islands, and is in the process of merging with Shetland College UHI and Train Shetland to create a new ins�tu�on, Shetland UHI.

con�nues “toAquaculture be an excellent career choice ”

INTRO - Training and Careers.indd 67

Fitzsimmons says: “There will be no changes to current aquaculture training provision – we are looking to ensure seamless transfer to the new college name, and the same staff and courses will be available. Going forward we will look to expand online course provision.” It is an�cipated the new body will come into being, subject to Sco�sh government approval, later this year. Fish farming is a popular industry for students at NAFC. Fitzsimmons says: “Aquaculture con�nues to be an excellent career choice for various age groups and offers a great opportunity for people in remote areas. Despite Covid, the industry has been very busy and there has been good demand for new employees and training provision.” The aquaculture sector in Norway is also finding increasing interest from applicants, a�er a period in which recruitment has been a challenge. For example, aquaculture technology firm Krüger Kaldnes recently received no less than 100 applica�ons from highly qualified candidates for two new engineering posi�ons. “It is not long ago that Norway was ‘stripped’ of engineers, and we had to recruit engineers from countries all over the world. So, this is definitely a confirma�on that the seafood and aquaculture industry has become a genuine choice of career for an increasing number of people,” says Per Håkon Stenhaug, HR Manager of Krüger Kaldnes. FF


12/04/2021 15:18:37

Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre.indd 68

12/04/2021 10:42:47

Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre.indd 69

12/04/2021 10:43:15

Products and services

What’s NEW Monthly update on industry innovations and solutions from around the world Turkey gets Falcon for emergency response THE rapid detection of hazardous substances in Turkey’s offshore waters has been made possible with a Saab Seaeye Falcon, operated by MOST Maritime and Environmental Services. MOST Maritime’s emergency response team chose the remotely operated vehicle for its speedy deployment, complete with cameras and multi-sensor detectors, ready to locate the incident, observe, and secure the danger. Falcon’s success comes from its reputation as a versatile resource, with five powerful thrusters packed into a compact and easy-to-handle metre-sized vehicle with intelligent control architecture. It has the manoeuvrability to operate in strong currents and is depth rated to 1000 metres.

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SINCE the Brexit deadline, O’Toole Transports’ food export hub in Bellshill has been successfully working with Food Standards Scotland to ensure our clients’ products make it to EU markets with little disruption. The planning and processes which took place over the last six months ensured we entered 2021 with very little disruption. This success has been a huge benefit to our customers and has been recognised throughout the Scottish seafood industry. From our site in Bellshill, O’Toole Transport can provide temperature-controlled warehousing, cross dock and transport services. This, combined with our onsite export health certification and customs service, ensures we can support you end to end through your product export process. Tel: +44 (0)1698 687949


What's New - Apr 21.indd 70

Sensor Rental Now Available from RS Aqua

RS Aqua are pleased to now offer their Innovasea real time environmental monitoring technology as a rental service. The move follows strong demand for a rental option from the major salmon producers and adds a flexible maintenance and sensor calibration option across the life of the equipment. This will provide the added security of replacement equipment available on a next day basis for the system’s standard sensors and telemetry. Being able to support farms quickly and efficiently is made possible by the system’s revolutionary cableless infrastructure, which can be modified seamlessly as requirements change throughout the salmon life cycle. For more visit:

Benchmark Genetics hires RAS expert IN his new role as RAS Technical Manager, Global with Benchmark Genetics, Andrew Cree Preston will be servicing customers and sharing his operational, academic and technical skills and experiences to help land-based fish farmers reach their production targets. Preston has considerable experience in aquaculture from a commercial farming perspective and in academic research. During his academic career, he was involved in research projects with leading global aquaculture, nutrition and pharmaceutical companies. Preston holds a PhD in Aquaculture from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, Scotland. Before joining Benchmark, Andrew was employed by AquaMaof Aquaculture Technologies.

Photo: Aquamoaf/ Moshik Brin

Exporting success

12/04/2021 15:26:17

Industry Diary

Industry DIARY The latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses APRIL 21 AQUACULTURE EUROPE 2021 (VIRTUAL EVENT)

Aquaculture Europe 2020 will now be an ONLINE event. The basic format of the event will stay the same as “normal” Aquaculture Europe meetings, with morning plenary sessions and then breakout parallel sessions for oral and Eposter presentations.

(Previously, Cork, Ireland) April 12-15, 2021


Fira, Barcelona, Spain September7-9, 2021



RAStech 2022 is the venue for learning, networking and knowledge sharing on RAS technologies, design and implementation across the world.


Hilton Head Island, SC, USA March 30-31, 2022

OCTOBER 21 AQUACULTURE EUROPE 2021 Seawork is Europe’s leading commercial marine and workboat exhibition, providing businesses the opportunity to showcase their products and services to an international audience. Southampton, Mayflower Park, UK, 15-17 June, 2021 Visit


Madeira, Portugal October 4-7, 2021

NOVEMBER 21 WORLD AQUACULTURE 2021 Merida, Mexico November 15-19, 2021




AQUACULTURE AMERICA 2021 This show will be the largest aquaculture trade show in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest anywhere in the world with nearly 200 booths! This is your opportunity to inspect the latest in products and services for the aquaculture industry.

San Antonio,Texas, USA August 11-14, 2021


Trondheim, Norway August 24-27, 2021

Industry Diary.indd 71

The event will be held in Singapore this year with involvement from countries throughout the Asian-Pacific region and around the world. Aquaculture is growing rapidly in the region and therefore 2021 is the perfect time for the world aquaculture community to turn its focus here. Singapore December 5-8, 2021

AQUACULTURE AFRICA 2021 Alexandria, Egypt December 11-14, 2021

FEBRUARY 22 AQUACULTURE 2022 San Diego, California, USA February 27 - March 3, 2022

Aviemore will once again be the venue for this biennial trade fair and conference. It is undoubtedly the most important aquaculture exhibition held in the British Isles. The show has a tremendous following and with increased investment for 2022 it promises to reach even further across the broader aquaculture markets in both the UK and Europe.

Aviemore, United Kingdom May 3-5, 2022

AUGUST 22 WAS NORTH AMERICA & AQUACULTURE CANADA St John’s Newfoundland, Canada. New Dates August/September 2022


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Aqua Source Directory.indd 73


12/04/2021 10:45:18

Opinion – Inside track

The art of story telling BY NICK JOY


riting last month’s piece about the last 50 years reminded me how much the industry has changed in other ways. When I first started to understand how we were seen by our critics, it became obvious that our story telling just simply wasn’t good enough. In those days a view prevailed that PR and marketing was just about telling lies. There was an even more damaging belief that PR was a way of hiding stuff and didn’t make any difference anyway. What mattered to the thinking of that time was either to be robust and strong with our critics or to be the opposite, and to try to find common ground. In fact, neither matter nearly as much as telling your story well. The industry’s approach to criticism should always be a mixture, as it appears to be now. We have grown up and it shows. Luckily, we have never lost the faith of the public despite some very serious attempts by our critics to do us damage. We take way too much of what we read for granted. Is it purely coincidence that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds releases stories about raptor poisoning just before the grouse shooting season starts? Smart organisations not only work out the angle of the story and who their audience is but also when to release it for maximum impact. I am not here to decry the arguments of the RSPB or the veracity of their releases, but they are well aware that the public are uncomfortable about shooting, generally against estates and view gamekeeping as a sort of licensed killer. They know which buttons to push. The above is so important because people are assailed with so many stories. The public’s mood changes, not because it is fickle but because its attention span can only at best be short. It is clear, not only why we have to fight for our view to be heard, but also why negative headlines always seem to trump the good news. A small industry like ours, especially one that is new and challenging, has a much harder time being heard. Having said all this, it is heartening to see a more reasoned tone on the part of the wild salmonid lobby. Perhaps they have started to realise that, like the estates being targeted by the RSPB, they too are regarded as rich, entitled and using a wild resource. Perhaps it is because our arguments and liaison with them have improved. It is hard to regard someone as evil with whom you have broken bread. More than anything I hope it is because they see our industry as being here to stay and thus that working with us is going to be inevitable. Nonetheless I would counsel a bit of caution still. I remember meeting a young toff at a conference who was a very passionate anti-fish farmer and supporter of all things wild salmonid. He was posh-voiced, dressed in a tweed jacket, posh trousers, the whole shebang. Not long after I was discussing fish farming matters with one of our loudest critics; a new age, matted hair, scruffily dressed weasel of a fellow when he told me that he was regularly having dinner with the young toff at his flat in Edinburgh to discuss tactics. It’s amazing what you can get out of someone with a few drinks. Alliances make for strange bedfellows. At times when you think you can predict or even know those who oppose you, you can still be amazed at how they work together.

A small “ industry like

ours… has a much harder time being heard

have our best interests at heart, nor that we should distrust what they say. It is merely to suggest that “trust but verify” is a very good mantra. I am glad we seem to be on a better footing and I long for the day when rural industries realise that we have to work together to get the public’s attention. Bickering and infighting between small industries only serves to aid our critics. Whether it is over planning, development or operations, working together quietly and calmly will always trump shouting in the media. Once a nameless shellfish farmer, in a private meeting, asked me what it would be worth for him not to object to our next planning application. I replied: “It’s worth nothing, except that I won’t object to any of yours or note any of the rubbish you are leaving in the bay which we tidy up!” He replied, “fair enough” and the conversation moved on. I’m sure that there are those that regard his attitude as reprehensible but I would rather he said it and we discussed it than he objected and then we discussed it. So much is better out in the open between differing parties. FF

I am not suggesting that we should not work with those who do not


Nick Joy.indd 74

12/04/2021 15:14:06

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12/04/2021 10:47:42

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