Fish F armer DECEMBER 2020
GENE-IUS The science of selection
Ready or not, here it comes
Fish Vet Group’s Chris Matthews
TAVISH SCOTT Meet the SSPO’s new chief
Fish handling Using technology to minmise stress ff12 Cover.indd 1
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10/12/2020 09:13:21 20/08/2020 11:54
ivotal world events are fascina�ng to report on, but they can be a nightmare when they fall across print produc�on deadlines. By the �me you read this, Boris Johnson and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, may have agreed their trade deal. Alterna�vely, we may be looking at the prospect of a no deal Brexit, with all that implies for those companies expor�ng from, or impor�ng into, the UK. Whichever of those proves to be the outcome, as we go to press it is clear that there will be big changes ahead for the seafood trade. And, as Sandy Neil’s feature on preparing for Brexit ﬁnds, there are a great many unanswered ques�ons. Elsewhere in this issue, Tim Hun�ngton puts the case for the ambi�ous aims of the English Aquaculture Strategy, which projects that a tenfold increase in produc�on by 2040 is possible for England’s “blue economy”. What’s happening in aq Dr Mar�n Jaﬀa considers the pros and cons of the pinger – the acous�c deterrent device, in the UK and around th that is – and Nicki Holmyard looks at the drive to market shellﬁsh to the consumer, for What’s happening in aquacu Christmas and beyond. in the UK and around the w We proﬁle Tavish Sco�, CEO at the Sco� sh JENNY –– EDITOR JENNY HJUL HJULSalmon EDITOR Producers’ Organisa�on and ﬁnd out how he intends to deal with the challenges ahead for the sector. JENNY JENNY HJUL HJUL –– EDITOR EDITOR We’re also taking a look at the fast-changing world of gene�cs, the technology of ﬁsh Steve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham The ﬁnal sessions handling and how to ensure and monitor the health of cleaner ﬁsh. Meanwhile, as the year draws to a close I wish all our readers the best for a happy and Steve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham The ﬁnal sessions HE salmon farming sector in Scotland, when it was to successful 2021. May it prove to be lessTfull of shocks than this year! he focus this month istopictures on Europe, the internati is coincidence that andwhere videos of unhealthy Sno Fish Farmer went press, there was sti lltold no oﬃ cialonal be thewere subject ofScotti a be parliamentary inquiry, embraced the industry willsent soon gathering the (European salmon to news outletsfor just asjoint 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 operated. Best wishes, Aquaculture and WAS Aquaculture Society) parliament went back to work at (World the start of month. These farming, conducted earlier this year by thethis Rural Economy be the subject of aSociety) parliamentary inquiry, embraced industry willsent soon be gathering the EASinto (European salmon were to news outletsfor just asjoint the Scotti shthe news from the Scotti sh parliamentary inquiry salmon Current trends In good Julie Hesketh-Laird The had nothing to hide and, if given fair hearing, Meet thehealth new chief exe Robert Outram conference, to be staged over ﬁve days in theait southern images had this litt le to doprovide with theto current state of Scotland’s ﬁcould sh and industry Connecti vity (REC) committ ee. MSPs have now heldFrench ﬁve opportunity would explain how operated. Aquaculture Society) and WAS Aquaculture Society) parliament back to work at (World the start of month. These farming, went conducted earlier this year by thethis Rural Economy address much of the criti cism levelled against it. 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 advances in our fast moving sector, Aqua 2018felt willthat alsohas feature year low (htt p://scotti shsalmon.co.uk/monthly-sea-lice-reports). 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 shsalmon.co.uk/monthly-sea-lice-reports). 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 to 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 such asthat the committ social and Connecti vity committ ee returned the summer recess we to makes grim reading for the industry asfrom it suggests ee 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 to shut down thein asbe expected, shut down this sector, rather thanthe tohave, those who operate Meet the team Charo Karisa of WorldFish writes about farming potenti al inthe Fish Farmer: Volume 43 Number 12 light. They will hopefully see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sitesindustry to snatch photographs in Of course, such stories may be inaccurate and, in any case, Also investi gati ng initi ati ves in the developing world, Dr Harrison campaigners, will, on balance, regard the in a favourable stepped acti vitiish es,and which nowculti involve breaching the within it.up their Editorial Advisory Board: Nigeria, both in catf ti lapia vati on. responsibiliti es seriously and that businesses will only ever invest the hope of ﬁ nding incriminati ng evidence against farmers. Onein committ ee’s ﬁ ndings are not binding. Scotland’s ﬁ sh farmers Contact us Charo Karisa of WorldFish writes about the farming potenti al in light. They will hopefully see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sites tosomething snatch ingame Of course, such stories may be inaccurate and,photographs inofany case,ngthe Steve Bracken, Hervé Migaud, Jim Treasurer, In Scotland, the summer has been aofwaiti What’s in a name? Dr Nick Lake Phil Thomas growth that isﬁbeen sustainable. Tel: +44(0) 131 551 1000 campaigner lmed himself searching, unsuccessfully, for minister, dead have always fortunate to have the support their Nigeria, both catf ish and tilapia culti vati on. responsibiliti seriously and that businesses will only ever invest in the hope of ﬁes nding incriminati ng evidence against farmers. One committ ee’s ﬁin ndings are not binding. Scotland’s ﬁ sh farmers Chris Mitchell, Jason Cleaversmith while the parliament is in recess and the members of Holyrood’s Fax: +44(0) 131 551especially 7901 If the committ ee members, those who have yet to of Phil ﬁ sh at a Marine Harvest site. Another said he saw ‘hundreds’ Fergus Ewing, to grow sustainably. In Scotland, the summer has been something of a waiti ng game What’s in a name? Dr Nick Lake Thomas growth that isﬁbeen sustainable. campaigner lmed himself searching, unsuccessfully, forto dead haveRural always fortunate to have the support of their minister, and Hamish Macdonell Economy and Connecti vity committ ee conti nue weigh up Email: shfarmermagazine.com visit aparliament farm, like tothe learn more about theagainst of infested salmon in awould pen, but we only have his word that But itsalmon should not go unchallenged that some MSPs onsubject the REC while the isroutram@ﬁ in recess and members of Holyrood’s If the committ ee members, especially those who have yet to 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 don’t expect Editor: RobertRural Outram their we have plenty of good stories in our May Even and Connecti vity committ ee 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 Designer: Andrew the Balahura bett er, they could head to the Highlands later this month, where 496 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH5 2DL Wefor evidence in their inquiry into salmon farming. don’t expect these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of Code of Conduct MSPs. As they their 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 Commercial Manager: 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, bett er, could head to Highlands later this month, where This month also sees reti rement of Marine Harvest’s longest these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of the Code of Conduct for MSPs. As they Subscriptions Janice Johnston 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 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, jjohnston@ﬁshfarmermagazine.com 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 it has done to date. The toWe know who they are, and we hope the through its warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the biggest ﬁ sh farming show. Magazine Subscrip� ons,economy, Warners Group must a much more robustWe defence itself, through its and ofmount businesses vital toBracken. Scotland’s we have a right Publisher: Alisterserving Benne� 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 milestone along with of the industry, thefarmers team will certainly be at Aquaculture UK inat Aviemore and look Publica� ons plc, The Mal� ngs, West representati vethey body, the SSPO, than itthe has done tothrough date. The toWe know who are, and wethe hope industry, its at Fish warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the should be prepared toyou ﬁvery ght back. the to REC report isall published. Farmer wish him the best for the future. Street, Bourne 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 prepared to ﬁvery ght back. the RECbe report published. Farmer wish himisall the 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
24 20 20-21 28-29 BTA Shellﬁsh Comment 24 20 20-21 28-29 BTA Shellﬁsh Comment
Cover: Chris Ma�hews, opera�ons director, Fish Vet Group
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26 22-23 30 Shellﬁ sh Comment BTA 26 22-23 30 BTA Shellﬁ sh Comment 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 Steve Bracken, Scott HervéLandsburgh, Migaud, jhjul@ﬁ shupdate.com Treasurer, Wiliam Jim Treasurer and Dowds William Dowdsemail: William Dowds Marti nofJaﬀ a era Vaccines New player Dawn Migaud, PatrickJim Smith and Jim Hervé Patrick Smith, PatrickMigaud, Smith, Treasurer and 3 new Editor: Jenny Hjul jhjul@ﬁ shupdate.com 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, EH5 2DL Designer: Andrew Balahura Fettes Park, 496 Ferry Road, Dave Edler 10/12/2020 17:35:02 Advertising Manager: Team Leader: Figure 9. Development of salmon nominal catch in sou
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 Wild salmon Cleaner ﬁsh decl Orkney IoA careers 36-39 32-35 34-35 43-45
Fish F armer In the December issue... News
What’s happening in the UK and around the world
Update from the processing sector
What does Joe Biden’s victory mean for the industry?
English Aquaculture SSPO
Colour of Salmon
Meet the SSPO’s new chief executive
Infectious Salmon Anaemia
Meet the Fish Vet Group’s Chris Matthews
Reducing stress through technology
Breeding & Genetics
Natural selection and genomics
Transport & Logistics
Getting ready for the new regime
Monthly update on industry innovations and solutions All the latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses
Aqua Source Directory Find all you need for the industry
Opinion Nick Joy
ff12 Contents.indd 4
62 63 64-65 66
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United Kingdom News
Grieg Shetland sale could net up to £125m, analysts say The sale of Grieg Shetland could raise up to £125 million for the parent company, analysts in Oslo are predicting.
INDUSTRY experts put the price on Grieg Seafood’s Scottish operations at between a billion and 1.5 billion kroner – and possibly more if there is a bidding war. Danske Bank Markets analyst Ivar Bakken said Norskott Havbruk (Scottish Sea Farms,
jointly owned by SalMar and Leroy Seafood,) and Cooke Aquaculture were expected to be among the main contestants. He also suggested that Bakkafrost, which took over the Scottish Salmon Company for more than £500 million a year ago, could be in the frame.
Grieg Seafood has assured the 160 plus staff who work at its Shetland base that operations will continue as normal until the review on its future is completed – possibly before the end of next year. The Norwegian ﬁsh farming company, which announced a third quarter group loss yesterday, sent shockwaves around the community when it disclosed that it was evaluating plans to sell the business and concentrate its salmon farming efforts on Norway and Canada. Grieg had already announced plans to cease operations at ﬁve farms on Skye once the current harvest has been completed. However, there are others who think that, with incomes shrinking as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, money to splash out on big purchases could be limited next year. Grieg is expected to use the proceeds of the sale to plug any ﬁnancial gaps and boost its Canadian and Norwegian farming operations. Grieg said it hoped to complete the sale towards the end of next year, although it is not putting a ﬁrm timetable on a deal. Grieg Shetland has been plagued by various biological problems which hit proﬁts during the quarter, but it reported progress in this area last week, making a sale more attractive.
Minister defends ﬁsh farming industry SCOTLAND’S cabinet secretary for rural economy and tourism, Fergus Ewing, has robustly defended the aquaculture sector at a grilling by members of the Scottish Parliament. He also promised that regulatory reform was on the way and announced that farms will next year be required to report sea lice numbers on a weekly basis. MSPs on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee quizzed Ewing and his civil servants on progress towards reforming the planning process, tackling welfare issues and protecting wild salmon. Ewing noted a number of steps that had already been taken, including a ﬁnﬁsh plan from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, new regulations preventing seal culling, tighter controls on the harvesting of wrasse and streamlining regulatory control of wellboat discharges. He said that it was important to have an understanding of issues like sea lice and the impact of interaction with wild salmon before ﬁnalising a planning framework, not after. He added, however, that the “spatial planning model” for considering applications for new farm sites – one of the
UK News.indd 6
key recommendations of the Salmon Interactions Working Group earlier this year – was “fairly close to being completed”. Ewing said that many believe regulation in the sector is too complicated, but it was important not to tackle it on a piecemeal basis. He concluded: “I see the aquaculture sector providing enormous beneﬁts for Scotland… I cannot think of a sector in the rural economy where there has been more investment.”
Above Fergus Ewing at RECC committee
Wiltshire trout farm invests in sustainable technology WILTSHIRE-based trout rearing specialist Trafalgar Fisheries is doubling production following a £1.5 million investment in sustainable technology. Trafalgar is located at Barford Fish Farm within the Longford Estate, Salisbury. The business is the biggest producer of rainbow trout for both Waitrose and Abel & Cole. It has also supplied food wholesalers for more than 40 years. The investment has been financed by a loan from Lloyds Bank. It will be used to implement the latest recirculation technology to improve production and modernise the natural rearing process. The funding comes via Lloyds Bank’s Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which provides discounted funding to help businesses transition to a lower carbon, more sustainable future. In recent years, the company says, rising water temperatures in the River Avon have seen an increase in fish mortality rates caused by exposure to infectious diseases. The new technology utilises borehole water, to create a stable environment for the fish, improving their quality of health and welfare. David Canty, resident agent at Longford Estate who is overseeing the project, believes that modernisation is the key to unlocking future growth. He said: “Becoming more efficient and sustainable, without compromising on quality, is absolutely key if we’re to continue to fly the flag for British trout across the world. We’re constantly thinking of ways to be more innovative and investing in the latest rearing technology gives us a really solid platform to do this.” Trafalgar Fisheries has been a customer of Lloyds Bank for
more than 40 years, when the then-owner of Longford Castle, the eighth Earl of Radnor, began experimenting with rearing trout in small ponds. Since then, the business has grown significantly, supporting 50 local employees and growing annual turnover to £5.8 million.
Above: Rainbow trout
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UK News.indd 7
United Kingdom News
Scotland resumes salmon exports to Saudi Arabia
Loch Duart named as ‘inspiring’ business
Health is high on the agenda in Saudi Arabia and the well-known health benefits of Atlantic salmon fit perfectly with this agenda. We are grateful to SDI, Seafood Scotland, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation and our full supply chain within Mowi Scotland for their support in making this market re-entry possible.” Clare MacDougall, Producers Organisation head of trade marketing welcomed the move: “This for Middle East, at Seafood is excellent news. This year has been one of upheaval and Scotland said: “It’s welcome news that Scottish Salmon uncertainty in the export is again being exported to markets due to Covid and Saudi Arabia. Across the the success in overcoming Scottish seafood industry exthe barriers to trade in Saudi porting has been challenging Arabia is a welcome signal recently and it’s great to see for Scottish salmon exports.” the support from multiple Mowi Scotland supplied the first order and believes it will agencies in assisting trade in this market.” add to the company’s regular In June, Saudi Arabia anschedule of exports to the nounced it was planning to Middle East. introduce sweeping tariff inJamie McAldine of Mowi creases on imported seafood, said: “Saudi Arabia is the up to a maximum of 12 per largest market in the Middle cent on some species. The East and it is great to be able Above: Loch Duart farm increases have been put on to meet the demand for our hold so far, however. high quality Scottish salmon. INDEPENDENT salmon farmer Loch Duart has been named as one of Britain’s most inspiring companies by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). Mark Warrington, managing director with Loch Duart, said: “Being named a London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘Company to Inspire Britain’, is a huge honour for Loch Duart. We aim to produce the highest quality salmon with the lowest possible environmental impact and by maintaining our niche at the top end of the market for over 20 years, it’s clear our customers across the world agree. “I’d like to thank our amazing team for their hard work, especially during this pandemic. We look forward to growing our business while continuing with the same, welfare friendly small-scale farming methods we’ve been using for over twenty-one years.” In the 7th edition of its report, Companies to Inspire Britain, the LSEG lists Above: Terry and Sarah Rendall with Lilly May (l) and Ella Marie (r) and their son 1,000 businesses, including 58 small-meCOOKE Aquaculture Scotland’s newest workboat, the Ella May, has arrived in dium sized enterprises based in ScotOrkney and will support the company’s organic seawater site at Cava in Scapa land, leading the way for the SME sector. Flow. Following Cooke’s naming convention, Ella May is named after the daughters The report also notes that the Food – Ella Marie and Lilly May – of Cooke Scotland’s head engineer, Terry Rendall. & Drink sector is the largest manufacCooke operates 19 operational sites in Orkney, including its organic farm at Mill turing industry in the UK, contributing Bay, off the east coast of the island group. £31.1bn to the economy annually. PRODUCERS are optimistic that the first shipment of Scottish salmon to Saudi Arabia in 18 months could point the way to new market opportunities. A shipment of Mowi Scotland salmon arrived in Dammam on Saturday 21 November, effectively re-opening the Saudi Arabian market after a lengthy hiatus due to the changes in Saudi seafood regulations in mid-2019. In 2017, the UK exported around £1.9 million of seafood to Saudi Arabia, dropping to around £1 million in 2018. Exports of Scottish salmon alone to Saudi Arabia were valued at around £200,000 per annum. Scottish Development International, Seafood Scotland and the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation have been working to overcome this trade barrier and secure new market access. Tavish Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon
New workboat for Cooke Aquaculture
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All the latest industry news from the UK
Milestone for Barcaldine as first fish reach market location, on the shores of SCOTTISH Sea Farms has Loch Creran near Oban, hailed a milestone with the mean that these young harvest of the first smolts salmon can be transferred reared at Scottish Sea directly from hatchery to Farms’ new hatchery at wellboat via a pipeline, Barcaldine, Argyllshire. then transported on to The fish were transferred one of SSF’s marine farms a year ago from the new around Scotland’s west RAS (recirculating aquacoast, Orkney and Shetculture system) hatchery land. at Barcaldine to SSF’s Loch Scottish Sea Farms Nevis C farm for on-growmanaging director Jim ing. Gallagher said: “When The smolts had an average it came to transforming weight of 178g when put to our freshwater farming, it sea – more than double the seemed only natural that weight Scottish Sea Farms we do so in the greenest would expect to achieve way possible: from reducvia conventional hatchery ing our use of fossil fuels methods – and required two Above (from left): Jim Gallagher, Noelia Rodriguez and Pål Tangvik or finite resources such as months less in the marine freshwater, to provision for our own hydro scheme. environment to reach market size. “Through the technologies available to us, we’re also able Freshwater manager Pål Tangvik said: “Thanks to its state-ofto capture any waste material from the growing cycle. This the-art recirculating aquaculture system – or RAS for short – we now have much greater control over the key growth factors is then removed by Invergordon-based waste management company, Rock Highland, who recirculate it as nutrient-rich of water quality, oxygen levels, temperature, light and speed agricultural fertiliser to aid crop development. of flow. “It’s all part and parcel of our commitment to responsible, “This creates a more stable environment compared to sustainable food production.” conventional flow-through hatcheries which, due to the fact Of the 5,200m3 of freshwater required per day, up to 99 per they draw in freshwater from rivers or lochs, can be subject to cent is recirculated, equating to a saving of over 20 times the changes in weather. freshwater consumption of conventional methods. “We’re also able to keep each generation of fish completely This water is cleaned every 30 minutes via a complex separate and bio-secure, meaning we can maintain peak health system of filters and UV light, without chemicals, and mainthroughout the freshwater cycle.” tained at a constant temperature via a combination of heat He added: “Combine this with our hugely talented fish huspumps and heat exchangers. These use less energy than bandry and technical teams, and what we’re seeing is bigger, traditional kerosene boilers or electric chillers and can also healthier smolts which not only require less time at sea but recover heat from waste-water for re-use. are better able to withstand the natural challenges of the maMeanwhile, a biomass system run on locally sourced wood rine environment.” chip provides heating and hot water throughout the rest of The 17,500m2 hatchery represents a £58 million investment the facility. has scope to produce up to 10 million smolts annually. Its
Organic Sea Harvest loses Skye planning appeal INDEPENDENT producer Organic Sea Harvest has lost its planning appeal for a fish farm off Flodigarry, on the Isle of Skye. The application was turned down on the grounds that it would have “significant and unacceptable impacts on landscape, character and visual amenity” of the area. OSH had sought permission for 12 120m cages and a feed barge. Highland Council rejected the application in January after objections from local residents. Now, the Scottish Government’s planning appeals reporter, Lorna McCallum, has upheld the council’s decision, citing the effect on the Trotternish NSA and Trotternish and Tianavaig SLA.
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She added that the proposal was not in accordance with the local development plan or national policy, and said “there remains some uncertainty regarding the significance of potential impacts upon wildlife and habitats.” The potential economic benefits did not outweigh these factors, she said. OSH director Alex McInnes commented: “Organic Sea Harvest has received the Appeal Decision Notice regarding the proposed Flodigarry site and we are obviously very disappointed that our appeal has been refused. We will take our time to discuss the decision with our legal advisors before making any decision on further steps.” OSH is Scotland’s first fish farming start-up in years. It is dedicated to growing organic salmon, which places
a limit on the size of its facilities and also means that its sites must be left fallow at intervals. The company has two sites already, both off Skye.
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Controls over wild wrasse harvesting imposed
THE Scottish Government has announced mandatory controls over the harvesting of wild wrasse for managing sea lice in the salmon farming industry. Fishers will have to meet certain criteria, show they have an appropriate relationship with an aquaculture business and have a proven track record to obtain a permit for harvesting wild wrasse. The measures follow a recent consultation with the industry and will be brought into effect from 1 May 2021. Introducing the changes, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the move is expected to improve management of the ﬁshery, provide clear instructions to all those involved, and secure better reporting of activity and data from ﬁshers to Marine Scotland. Ewing said: “These measures will support the sustainable growth of our valuable aquaculture industry while also maintaining the right balance across our economic, environmental and social responsibilities. “Mandatory measures for wild wrasse harvesting will help to maintain healthy stocks of this ﬁsh which is so important for treating and controlling lice in our salmon farms while improvements to the way we consider regulation of ﬁsh farms will ensure the impact from interactions with iconic wild salmon and sea trout is reduced.” In 2018 a voluntary code was introduced in collaboration with the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation. The Scottish Government says it will work to ensure that reasonable ﬁshing opportunities remain, that there is access for new entrants to wrasse ﬁshing and that there is a fair recruitment system that takes into account sustainability and the aspirations of ﬁshermen who may wish to diversify. The measures will be kept under review. Analysis of responses to the consultation on Proposed New Mandatory Fishing Measures for Wild Wrasse Harvesting will be published in due course, the government says.
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Scotland designates four new Marine Protected Areas to protect sea life MINKE whales, basking sharks and Risso’s dolphins will be among a wide range of biodiversity and geological features to be safeguarded following the designation of four new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by the Scottish Government. A further 12 sites have been given Special Protection Area status, providing additional protection to Scotland’s vulnerable marine birds including sea ducks, divers, grebes and our iconic seabirds. A total of 230 sites are now subject to marine protection measures, covering around 227,622 square kilometres - 37% - of Scotland’s seas. The West of Scotland MPA, Europe’s largest Marine Protected Area, was designated in September. The four new Marine Protected Areas are: North-east Lewis; Sea of the Hebrides (the largest of the four new MPAs); Shiant East Bank (located in the middle of the Minch, the body of water separating the Outer Hebrides from the Scottish mainland) and Southern Trench. The sites receiving Special Protection Area status include: the seas off Foula; the East Mainland Coast of Shetland; the Sound of Gigha; Coll, Tiree and Rum; the west coast of the Outer Hebrides; as well as coastal areas to the south west and east of Scotland.
Natural Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “Scotland’s waters are home to many unique species and these designations ensure our MPA network is fully representative of our marine diversity, exceeding the proposed international target to achieve 30% of global MPA coverage by 2030. “Protecting Scotland’s marine environment is also crucial for supporting the sustainable recovery of our marine industries and these designations will form a key element of our Blue Economy Action Plan.” Calum Duncan, the Marine Conservation Society’s Head of Conservation Scotland said: “We are delighted to see these new areas designated to protect basking sharks and some of the other stunning marine wildlife and habitats found in Scotland’s seas. Now it is key that these areas, and the wider protected area network, are properly managed so that they can support urgently needed ocean recovery. “To do this, protection measures still need to be put in place for most sites in the network. Building back better from the intertwined climate, nature and Covid crises must include real protection measures to make sure the network helps increase ecosystem resilience, combat climate change and supports coastal communities into the future.”
Above: Minke whale
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English aquaculture â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;could grow tenfoldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lated country; negative public perception; â&#x20AC;&#x153;an opaque and sometimes highly precautionary approach to aquaculture authorisationsâ&#x20AC;?; limited consumer demand; and vulnerability of marine shellfish to poor water quality. The paper sees opportunities arising from the limits on potential wild catch levels in future, a more risk-based approach to planning shellfish production and government encouragement for an industry that has a small carbon footprint and offers food security.The English Marine Plans and their more detailed local interpretation are identified as the primary mechanism for identifying areas for potential sustainable growth in the sector. In her foreword to the strategy document,Victoria Prentis, minister for farming, fisheries and food says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is my sincere hope that it [the EAS] will help the sector take advantage of the opportunities that will result in a sustainable and thriving future.â&#x20AC;? The English Aquaculture Strategy can be downloaded from the Seafish website at www.seafish.org/ See Tim Huntington, page 26 % FAI 00
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AN industry body has set out an ambitious plan to grow aquaculture in England tenfold by 2040. The English Aquaculture Strategy (EAS), commissioned by the Seafood 2040 (SF2040) Industry Leadership Group, says that production in England can be increased by around 90,000 tonnes over the next two decades. The report was produced by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management facilitated by the Sea Fish Industry Authority and supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It says the targets can be achieved through a combination of â&#x20AC;&#x153;expansion, innovation, integration and proportionate regulationâ&#x20AC;?.The EAS, the report says, will be implemented through action at regional and national level, including provincial initiatives such as the Dorset Mariculture Strategy. Aquaculture in England employs just over 1,000 people and produces a turnover of ÂŁ26 million annually, making it a poor relation to both aquaculture in Scotland and the English wild fishing industry. Among the factors inhibiting growth, the paper cites competition for space and resources in a densely popu-
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Qatar Airways starts seafood express service
Above: Qatar Airways Boeing 777
ONE of the world’s most advanced jet airliners is being used to carry salmon and other seafood from Norway to the Middle East and beyond. The ﬁsh will be carried on board the long range Boeing 777-300 of Qatar Airways, the ﬁrst commercial aircraft to be designed entirely by computer. It will be taken directly to Doha before being split up into further onward ﬂights destined for Asian, African and other Middle East Markets. The operation was due to start on 14 December and will be handled by Qatar Airways’ cargo division ﬂying the salmon out of Norway at least three times a week. This is not the ﬁrst time passenger jets have been used to transport salmon from Norway, but it is certainly one of the largest exercises of its kind. Hundreds of large airliners have been laid up by the pandemic and switching them to freight transport is one way of making up for some of the losses in passenger revenues. Avinor, the authority which looks after
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Norway’s state airports, said ﬂights will operate three times a week carrying more than 150 tonnes of farmed and wild caught seafood. The ﬂights, organised by Perishable Centre Nord, will operate from Evenes (HartstadNarvik) airport in the Nordland region which has an extra-long runway and is also used as a base by the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Guillaume Halleux, chief ofﬁcer, cargo at Qatar Airways, said the airline was very pleased to be supporting Northern Norway’s seafood and salmon exporters. Perishable Centre Nord stated that operating more direct routes would mean a lot for fresh seafood businesses in the region. Competitiveness and freshness would certainly improve, the company added. However, not every seafood company is a fan of air travel. A few weeks ago the Faroese salmon farming company Hiddenfjord announced it had stopped all freight transport by plane, saying the decision would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 94 per cent. Hiddenfjord is now transporting its ﬁsh by sea.
BioMar signs up for Swedish RAS salmon project A major land-based salmon farming project in Sweden has signed up international feed group BioMar as its supplier. BioMar and Quality Salmon Sotenäs AB have agreed a deal for BioMar to provide feed for Quality Salmon’s new site once it starts production in 2022. The farm, based in Sotenäs, in western Sweden, aims to produce 100,000 tons of salmon annually. It will operate using a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) and has been financed by Norwegian-owned investor Lighthouse Finance. Roy W. Høiås, CEO of Lighthouse Finance A/S, said: “Investing 17-20 BSEK [billion Swedish kronor] in the industrial park and aiming for a future production of 100,000 tons salmon per year demonstrates our level of ambition pretty clearly. We want to do more than just framing the producing of salmon. That is why we have chosen to partner with BioMar, as we share a mutual vision that sustainability and innovation are the key drivers for success.” The investment in Sotenäs is part of the municipality’s drive to become a centre for sustainable seafood production. The Quality Salmon farm is envisaged as an integrated site, eventually managing the whole process for feed production to waste processing. Ole Christensen, vice president of BioMar said: “We have been working with feed solutions for RAS for more than 20 years and we Top: Roy W. HøiåsA are excited to partner Above: Ole Christensen with Quality Salmon Sotenäs to join them on their journey. “We have a strong focus on finding innovative and sustainable feed solutions and being a part of a project that has a focus on circular economy and adoption of new raw materials, makes it a good match with the way we do our business.”
Bakkafrost bullish on Q3 results FAROESE fish farmer Bakkafrost, owners of the Scottish Salmon Company, reported a third quarter EBIT of 102.7 million Danish kroner (DKK) (£12m) during what has been a difficult period for salmon farmers. Comparisons with Q3 2019 do not apply this time because during that period SSC was not an integral part of the group. The Group made a profit in Q3 2020 of DKK 176.8 million (£21m) (DKK 180.9 million in 2019). For the first nine months of 2020, the profit was DKK 500.5 million (£60m) (DKK 582.4 million in 2019). As reported last month harvest volumes totalled 21,600 tonnes gutted weight, with the Faroe Islands producing 11,100 tonnes and Scotland 10,500 tonnes. Bakkafrost CEO Regin Jacobsen said: “During this quarter, the global salmon market has again been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, putting pressure on the salmon industry and affecting the financial returns across the industry negatively. “Throughout the third quarter, we have, however, been able to maintain a steady supply to our customers. In the VAP segment, the supply has been higher than in a normal third quarter due to a strongly increased demand from our retail customers in Europe and the US. The sales to Russia have picked up again as well in this quarter. “ He continued: “The biology in the Faroe Islands has performed strongly, and the harvested fish has had a high quality. This is partly a result of our investments in our ability to produce larger smolts. “Our investments in increased hatchery capacity – latest with the completion of the
Above: Regin Jacobsen
Strond hatchery – have enabled us to increase the average smolt size significantly, and this increase will continue as we have now commenced the expansion of the hatcheries at Norðtoftir and Glyvradalur. In 2022, we expect to reach our target average smolt size of 500g. “ Mr Jacobsen said that the high quality of the larger smolts produced has a positive impact on the performance of the smolts released into its marine sites, which in combination with good stewardship and proper care have created good end results. He added: “In 2013, we set ourselves the ambitious goal to become 100 per cent Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified in 2020, and since then we have worked very hard to make it happen. “This has required huge commitment from
our employees, who have worked hard on changing the way we operate, and to establish the necessary competences in the company. I am therefore extremely pleased to be able to announce that we have now got the final piece of the puzzle in place.” Bakkafrost’s expected harvest volume for this year in the Faroe Islands is 50,000 tonnes gutted weight, while the expected harvest in 2020 in Scotland is 39,000 tonnes gutted weight. Harvest volumes for 2021 in the Faroe Islands are expected to reach 62,500 tonnes gutted weight and 44,000 tonnes gutted weight in Scotland. Bakkafrost expects to release around 14.7 million smolts in 2020 in the Faroe Islands, compared to 12.7 million smolts in 2019 and 12.6 million smolts in 2018. The smolt release in Scotland is expected to be 10.7 million smolts in 2020, compared to 12.4 million smolts in 2019 and 8.6 million smolts in 2018. In its market outlook report Bakkafrost said the global harvest of Atlantic salmon was 4.8 per cent higher in Q3 2020, compared to Q3 2019, according to the latest estimate from Kontali Analysis. Looking forward, the market dynamics will still be affected by the Covid-19 situation which imposes greater than normal uncertainty to the market development estimates. In Q4 2020, the global harvest of Atlantic salmon is expected to increase by around five per cent compared to Q4 2019. The estimated global harvest of Atlantic salmon for 2020 is an increase of around four per cent compared to 2019. In 2021, the global harvest of salmon is expected to increase around one per cent.
Salmon prices stall again THE rise in salmon prices which sent a few industry pulses racing in November seems to have been short-lived, the latest figures from Norway suggest. Fresh or chilled salmon fell back by 1.9 per cent to NOK 47.67 between week 47 and week 48, which is higher than the 1.3 per cent increase reported by Statistics Norway last month. Prices are now more than 24 per cent than this time last year. However, export levels at 24,964 tonnes in week 48 were slightly up. The price per kilo of frozen salmon (excluding by products) at NOK 50.44, was 4.4 per cent lower than the week before and 15.7 per cent lower than the same week in 2019. In the period, 496 kilos of frozen salmon were exported. This is an increase of 70.4 per cent from week 47. Fish sold on contract are included in the statistics. The reported prices are the value when crossing the Norwegian border, and
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includes, among other things, shipping and terminal costs. Hopes had been raised a couple of weeks ago that prices were at last moving away from the stubbornly low levels of the past few months. The successful news about the development and approval of Covid-19 vaccines suggested that the hotel, restaurant and catering sector, which buys salmon on a large scale could return to normal by the spring or at least the summer of 2021. Most seafood analysts remain confident that price will pick up come the new year, once it becomes clear infections are starting to show a marked decline. However, fears have been expressed that failure to secure a UK-EU trade deal in the ongoing talks could eventually hit Norwegian salmon exports to Britain. Right: Salmon fillets
Norway Royal Salmon share deal paves way for Iceland tie-up
Above An Arctic offshore farm
A LARGER and more powerful Icelandic salmon farming operation looks set to emerge following a financial restructuring in Oslo. The Norwegian transport and aquaculture services group NTS is increasing its stake in Norway Royal Salmon (NRS) after selling
its shares in the company which owns the Icelandic salmon farmer Ice Fish Farm. In return, the Norwegian investment company Måsøval Eiendom AS has entered into an agreement with the NTS subsidiary Midt-Norsk Havbruk (MNH) for the purchase of all the shares in
Ice Fish Farm, which is the holding company of Fiskeldi Austfjörður. The deal means that Måsøval, which farms in Iceland as Laxar Fiskeldi, will have a majority stake in in two Icelandic salmon companies with its new stake in Fiskeldi Austfjarðar (Ice Fish Farm). In return Måsøval is selling its holding in Norway Royal Salmon to MNH. In a statement to the Oslo Stock Exchange Måsøval said it looked forward to the opportunity to buy this share in Ice Fish Farm. The statement added: “it was an opportunity to strengthen our operations and investments in Iceland in such a way that we could not refuse it.” Together, the two Icelandic companies have the potential to produce up to 54,000 tonnes
of salmon a year, provided they obtain all the necessary permits. Commenting on the Norway Royal Salmon share purchase, NTS chairman Nils Martin Williksen said: “As an integrated aquaculture group, NTS has set itself the goal of building a large business in aqua service and being an active participant in the production of 100,000 tonnes of salmon in Norway during a three- to five-year period. “In accordance with this, the transactions as we have done today increase our exposure to Norwegian aquaculture and the company we believe is best positioned for further growth. “NRS has good locations, an attractive license portfolio and will through significant investments in e.g. smolt plants make operations even better in the years ahead. Through Arctic Fish, the company also has a significant exposure in Iceland, which means that NTS ASA is still exposed to the exciting development there.”
Norway’s seafood exports take a hit NORWAY has reported a significant drop in the value of its seafood exports, including salmon, for last month. The country’s fish farmers and fishermen netted a total of NOK 9.4 billion (£798.5 million), a decline in value of 11 per cent or NOK 1.2 billion (£102 million) compared with November last year. Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, director of market insight and access at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: “Norwegian seafood exports are now really noticing the effect Above Salted cod of a hotel and restaurant sector that is more or less shut down in Europe. “In addition, traditional products such as clipfish [salted cod] and stockfish [dried, unsalted fish] are often eaten at larger dinner parties with friends and family. When such meeting points are limited, it goes beyond demand.” Farmed salmon took quite a hit in value terms last month although volumes held up reasonably well.. The sector exported 108,000 tonnes worth NOK 5.8 billion (£493m), a one per cent increase in volume, but a drop of 15 per cent or NOK 991 million (£84m) in revenue.
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Seafood Council analyst Paul T. Aandahl explained: “Due to the corona situation and a reduced turnover in the restaurant sector, salmon was unable to reach the record high price level we had before Christmas last year. The fall in value could actually have been greater, but this is offset by increased sales of fillets.” Salmon exports so far this year total NOK 64 billion (£5.4 billion). Overseas sales of farmed trout totalled 6,200 tonnes and were worth NOK 352 million (£29.7 million), a volume decline of eight per cent and a drop in value of seven per cent on a year ago. Paul Aandahl added: “Traditionally, relatively little of the Norwegian trout is sold for consumption outside the home, and it is therefore less affected by the closure in the restaurant sector.” The seafood industry also recorded a fall in demand for both fresh and frozen cod, another big export earner for Norway although sales to Britain increased, probably due to fears that the UK and the EU will fail to agree a deal. Herring sales were down, but mackerel exports fared better and there was a decline in sales of shrimp while sales of king crab to the United States showed impressive growth.
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Norcod says its cod harvest is on track
NORCOD, Norway’s largest cod farmer, has reported a third quarter operating profit in its first production cycle, but a small pre-tax loss. The company farms cod in its natural habitat off the coast of central Norway and has so far produced 1.7 million fish, spread over two locations. For Q3 its operating profit was NOK 1.1 million although after financial expenses, earnings after tax showed a loss of NOK 5.4 million. After several rounds of fundraising the group’s equity went up by NOK 14.1 million between the end of 2019 and the close of Q3 this year. Its stock commenced trading
on the Oslo Stock Exchange’s Merkur market in October. The company’s report for Q3 states: “During the third quarter, our experience shows that cod handles very well the transition from growth in vessels on land to life in cages in the sea. High survival, calm behaviour, good appetite and well-distributed biomass are good indicators.” Norcod says its biological feed factor is 1, that is 1kg of feed is converted to 1kg of cod. It also hopes to get the best price for its product though a partnership with seafood distributor Sirena.
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back at NOK 25.60 at the close of business. Incorporated in 2015, Kingfish produces the Dutch Yellowtail, a high-quality, antibiotic-free marine finfish species. From this year it has been operating a facility with a run rate of 650 tonnes, while actively expanding in its Netherland site. Plans for a US site are also well advanced. Kingfish CEO Ohad Maiman said: “We are excited by our recent progress across production, sales, and expansion activities, and view the Oslo Merkur Market an enabling platform as we look to scale up our business and transform our first mover position into a long-term competitive advantage as a vertically integrated RAS aquaculture operator in the EU and the US.” The Oslo Merkur Maiman Market’s rebrand is part of the organisation’s transition to using Euronext’s trading platform, Optiq.
Heavy Duty and COMFORTABLE NEW ISOMAX
THE Netherlands-based seafood company Kingfish made a promising debut on the Oslo Stock Exchange’s Euronext Growth Market (formerly the Merkur Market) on 25 November. Kingfish hopes the Norwegian IPO will generate millions of euros to help finance and accelerate its expansion in the Netherlands and the United States. Dutch news sources say the company expects to raise between €50 million and €70 million in new capital. Recently, the company raised NOK 535.5 million (£45 million) through issuing new shares. The shares in the new issue were sold at NOK 20.56 per share, corresponding to an equity value of NOK 1.39 billion (£110 million). Trading as KING-ME and with strong support Above: Ohad from Norwegian investors, the share price opened at NOK 29, falling to NOK 23, before settling
Kingfish opens trading on Oslo’s Euronext Growth Market
Manufacturing in France since 1964
NEW COLOUR CHINOOK
Mowi tops sustainability index FOUR companies in the aquaculture sector have made it to the top 10 of an independent global index of sustainable food producers. The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index is based on an analysis of 60 of the world’s largest animal protein producers, ranking them on a number of factors including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, animal welfare and working conditions for employees. Mowi is ranked as the world’s best performer, with Bakkafrost (owner of the Scottish Salmon Company) taking third place, Grieg sixth and Lerøy (co-owner of Scottish Sea Farms) coming in at number eight. Mowi took top ranking for the second year in a row. Seafood group Thai Union and Salmones Camanchaca also made the top 20. This is the third year the FAIRR Protein Producer Index has been published. No producers have yet achieved “best practice” status and of the 60 companies covered by the Index, 38 are classiﬁed as “high risk”, on average, across all of the 10 risk and opportunity factors. Right: Mowi salmon
Lerøy Seafood Group sees revenue, proﬁts fall for Q3 Lerøy Seafood Group, co-owners of Scottish Sea Farms, today posted a fall in in third quarter revenue of NOK 329 million (£27.5 million). Salmon was not the main culprit, however. The company said the most signiﬁcant factor behind the lower earnings was pressure on the whiteﬁsh market resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the change in catch composition compared with Q3 2019. Lerøy is not only one of Norway’s largest salmon farmers, it also operates a powerful trawler ﬂeet whose main catch is cod, haddock and saithe, along with a major seafood processing business. Revenues for the July to September period totalled NOK 4,773 million (£398 million) against NOK 5,102 million (£426 million) in Q3 2019, down by just over six per cent. Operating proﬁt before fair value adjust-
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ment related to biological assets was NOK 370 million (£31 million) compared with NOK 501 million (£41.5 million) in Q3 2019, a fall of 26 per cent. Group revenues for the ﬁrst nine months of this year total NOK 14.79 billion, (£1.235 billion) against NOK 15.19 million (£1.268 billion) in 2019. The operating proﬁt for the ﬁrst three quarters of 2020 was NOK 1,508 million (£126 million), compared with NOK 1,965 million (£164 million) in 2019. Lerøy’s CEO Henning Beltestad, said the restrictions introduced to combat the Covid-19 pandemic continue to impact on demand for seafood. He explained: “In the third quarter, the restrictions have had a particularly negative impact on earnings for the whiteﬁsh segment.
“We have no way of knowing how long we will be affected by the pandemic, but we are experiencing that the Group’s model of close integration with the end consumer has grown even stronger throughout this period. In the long term, we also believe that demand for healthy, good and sustainable seafood will not change and will experience growth.” “One main target also in Q3 has been to keep the value chain open and ensure deliveries to our customers. We have succeeded in this. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their hard work in a challenging time.” Beltestad added: “2021 is just around the corner, and this is a year when we expect to see the initial effects of our substantial investments in smolt and other improvement measures.”
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Grieg raises cash for green investment GRIEG Seafood has successfully extended a large unsecured green bond from NOK 1 billion to NOK 1.5 billion (£127 million). The company told the Oslo Stock Exchange the additional NOK 500 billion (£42.5 million) will be used to finance environmental related projects. The issue will mature in June 2025. Grieg says sustainable farming practices are the foundation of its operations. It adds: “The lowest possible environmental impact and the best possible fish welfare drive economic profitability. “Towards 2025, we aim for global growth, cost leadership in each region and to evolve from a pure salmon supplier to an innovation partner for selected customers.” CEO Andreas Kvame said: “We farm the ocean responsiAbove A Grieg salmon farm bly and with as little impact as possible. Every day we strive to panies. Like most businesses in this sector, reduce our footprint and farm in its financial results have been affected by the co-existence with nature and wild species.” Covid-19 pandemic. However, Grieg’s third Green bonds are debt instruments issued quarter results published last month showed it to raise capital to finance investments that had suffered more than most, with a negaoffer positive environmental, economic and tive EBIT of NOK 192 million. However, it climate benefits. remained upbeat about future prospects. It has been a difficult few months for Grieg, But at the same time it dropped a bombshell one of the world’s top salmon farming com-
by announcing that it plans to sell its Shetland business next year and concentrate its activities at its Norwegian and Canadian farms. The company employs 900 people worldwide, including almost 200 on Shetland. It hopes to strike a deal to sell the Shetland operation, which could net Grieg up to £125 million,(see UK News, page 6)..
ISA infections move south NORWAY’S Food Safety Authority has established a strict control area in the Stavanger region to help prevent the further spread of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA). The Rogoland area is in the southern part of Norway which up to now has remained relatively ISA-free. The move follows a confirmed ISA outbreak earlier this month at the Rossholmen sea site which is operated by Rogaland Fjordbruk AS and Ewos Innovation AS. Rossenholme is also close to two existing control areas for ISA in the Stavanger area. Several Norwegian salmon farms have been hit by a spate of ISA outbreaks over the past ten months, making it one of the worst years on record. Most, however, have been in the Troms and Finnmark region further north. Now, it appears that infections have moved to the southern half of the country. In order to limit the spread of infection, the site has been subject to restrictions, including a ban on the movement of fish without special permission. The heartbreaking and often costly task of emptying the site through the slaughter of fish has already begun. The Food Safety Authority said: “The purpose of the proposed (control area) regulation is to prevent, limit and combat the disease ISA in fish after an outbreak of the disease in the scope of the regulations.” The regulations place restrictions on activity in the area.
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The high number of ISA cases has puzzled marine biologists and an official investigation into possible causes is currently under way. Some have suggested that sea warming may be playing a part.
AKVA signs deal to build land-based farm in Sweden
Above: How the new land-based salmon farm will look
AQUACULTURE technology business AKVA has signed a deal to design a land-based salmon farm in Sweden. The facility will be owned and run by Premium Svensk Lax (PSL), a Swedish company that has developed a zero-emissions approach to land-based fish farming. In September, PSL gained approval from Swedish regulators for a farm with annual production of 10,000 tons of salmon. PSL’s CEO and founder, Sanja Miljevic, said in September: “Sustainable and environmentally friendly salmon farming with zero emission has been our vision from day one and receiving this approval confirms that our project a criteria and is in line with Sweden’s environmental goals.” AKVA group Land Based A/S, a wholly
owned subsidiary of AKVA group ASA, has signed an engineering and design contract with regard to the facility. AKVA has been chosen as the preferred supplier and the final delivery contract, if awarded, has a value of approximately €95 million. AKVA’s equity participation in the project up to NOK 30 million is subject to PSL obtaining the necessary financing for the project and agreement on a final delivery contract. AKVA says. The farm, which will be inland rather than coastal, is planned with 88 tanks to accommodate different growth stages from first feed to big grow-out tanks, up 25 metres in diameter. Once production is at full capacity, PSL says it will be able to provide as much as 20 per cent of Sweden’s domestic demand for salmon.
Boost for Iceland’s aquaculture education ONE of Iceland’s leading universities has received a major grant to help develop vocational training in aquaculture. The ISK 46 million award to the University of Akureyri in the north of the country has
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come from Erasmus+, a European Union programme set up to support education and training for young people. Although Iceland is not a member of the EU, it is involved in a Centre of Vocational Excellence joint research project which includes other EU countries such as Sweden and Finland. The University of Akureyri now has its own aquaculture and fishery training facility and its speciality within the project is the design of study material used for fish farming training. The University said in a statement there had been a large increase in aquaculture activity in Iceland which meant that demand for greater education in fish farming technology had increased accordingly.
Damen launches converted feed carrier vessel NETHERLANDS-based shipyard group Damen has completed its conversion of a platform supply vessel into a feed carrier. The converted vessel, Eidsvaag Opal, will be operated by Norwegian company Eidsvaag on behalf of feed groups Skretting and Cargill. The conversion was carried out by Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam (DSAm) and involved extending the vessel length by 5 metres and fitting 35 new silos and a big bag hold, with capacity for 2,800 tonnes of fish feed. DSAm also fitted five new cranes and a discharge system. Also working on the project were Niron Staal, Damen’s specialist steel fabricator – the project entailed 875 tonnes of steel work – and extensive electrical work carried out by carried out by FMJ Marine Automation. Eidsvaag Opal was commissioned to work as part of the “Fjordfrende” collaboration between Skretting and Cargill, competitors in the feed sector. Fjordfrende is an initiative aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in aquaculture, supported by funding from the European Commission. As a result of Fjordfrende, the emissions of both companies are expected to be cut by one fifth, some 10-20 million kg CO per year. The project took 346 days in total and was completed despite Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands. DSAm senior project manager Arjan de Vos said: “Naturally we were very concerned with the wellbeing of everyone working on the project and had to take the time to implement safety measures. This proved to be very effective and not only were we able to continue the work, but we did it in good time. I’m very pleased with the way that we have risen to the challenge presented by the pandemic as a team and been able to continue to safely serve our clients during this time.”
Above: The Eidsvaag Opal
Iceland farm site plan faces opposition PLANS to build a large salmon farm near the east Icelandic port of Seyðisfjörður are facing growing opposition, The main protests are coming from sports fishing organisations and a section of local inhabitants. The company, Fiskeldi Austfjörður, which is part of the Ice Fish Farm group, wants to produce up to 10,000 tonnes of fish in the fjord. The project, says the company and those locals who support it, would create many new jobs and boost the local economy. Fiskeldi Austfjarðar has said it wants good co-operation with locals and plans to hold an introductory meeting in Seyðisfjörður to explain its plan and allay any fears. The eastern part of Iceland has become a focus for expansion by fish farming companies in the last couple of years. But not everyone living in the area is happy with this growth even though it would provide the local municipality, with extra income. Opposition groups say it would spoil the appearance of what is an area of considerable natural beauty and a popular calling point for cruise liners. It would also turn it into an industrial zone. Meanwhile, The influential National Association of Fishing Associations said in a statement it shared the concerns of local people, adding it was strongly against the project because it would harm wild salmon stocks who inhabit local rivers.. The statement pointed out that tens of thousands of tourists come to Iceland every
year and they did not want to be faced with what it described as open factories in the fjord or offshore. However, the final decision on whether the project goes ahead will be made nationally and not at local level.
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Above: Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
Bakkafrost smolt hatchery set for expansion BAKKAFROST has signed an agreement with Norwegian recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology company Nofitech to expand the Glyvradal smolt hatchery on the Faroe Islands. The project will expand the hatchery’s capacity by 13,000 cubic metres. Bakkafrost says the move is part of its long term investment plan and will mean that the annual production of the Glyvradal hatchery is expected to increase to four million smolt when the expansion project is completed in two years’ time. The expansion of the Glyvradal hatchery capacity is part of Bakkafrost’s strategy to farm the salmon for a longer period on land. The goal is to reach an average smolt size of 500 grams and to reduce the farming period at sea down to 12 months by 2022. Bakkafrost CEO Regin Jacobson said: “With the expansion of the Glyvradal smolt hatchery, we are one step closer to achieving our overall
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goal to farm our salmon for a longer period on land.” He added: “This is part of our strategy to farm superior salmon in a sustainable way with minimal biological risk.” Robert Hundstad, CEO at Nofitech, said he was delighted with the partnership with the Faroese salmon farming company. He added: “We are very excited and humbled that Bakkafrost has given us the opportunity to be in the lead of this visionary project and
to be part of the exciting development in the industry of salmon farming.” Bakkafrost, which owns the Scottish Salmon Company, is currently also expanding the smolt hatcheries at Viðareiði and Norðtoftir. With the expansion of the three smolt hatcheries, Bakkafrost increases the total smolt capacity with 30,000 cubic metres. Below: The Glyvradal smolt hatchery
Seafood Expo North America conﬁrms shift to July
Above: North America’s Seafood Expo is shi�ing to July
NEW dates have been announced for Seafood Expo North America, which was postponed from March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The event, which is combined with Seafood Processing North America, will now take place on July 11-13, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The venue for the expo, which brings together seafood suppliers and buyers from the North American market, will be the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Liz Plizga, group vice-president of Diversiﬁed Communications – which runs the conference – said: “While the summer is an untraditional time of year for this event, we are pleased to have been able to ﬁnd new dates in 2021 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center that will allow our seafood community to gather once again. “We’ve had conversations with seafood buyers and industry
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professionals who have expressed the need to reconnect and are eager to meet in-person in July.” Diversiﬁed also stressed that the company will continue to monitor closely the situation around Covid-19 and work with the venue and the appropriate authorities to ensure the health and safety of customers, attendees, vendors, employees and local community. As planning progresses, Diversiﬁed Communications will be keeping a close eye on public health advice. The conference program will consist of live and pre-recorded educational sessions providing insights on emerging market trends and topics relevant to today’s evolving seafood business environment. The 2022 edition of Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America will take place in March 2022, in the same time frame as in past years.
China tightens regime for seafood imports SALMON and other seafood exporters look set to face stricter regulations when exporting to China. The authorities in Beijing have decided to issue new health certificates with tougher demands which are due to come into force from the start of 2021. According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, China is demanding that details of the entire production chain must be listed before it will accept fish from abroad. However, this has yet to be confirmed. They also want the names of fish farms, cold stores and fishing boats along with demands that packaging be disinfected against Covid-19. It is advising its members to keep in close contact with customers and importers in China to ensure they are on the right side of the regulations. According to financial news agency TDN Direkt, the Seafood Council has said it is risky to export fish from centres and fishing vessels that are not registered in China. And it is warning there may be some uncertainty until the new regulations come into force on 1 January. While Norway is one of China’s largest overseas salmon suppliers, the rules apply to all seafood exporting countries. Although China was the country where coronavirus pandemic began 12 months ago, it now has some of the tightest measures against the disease. The authorities claim that salmon packaging from Chile has shown signs of infections. Earlier this year a large Beijing food market was forced to shut after a salmon chopping board, used for imported fish, was found to contain evidence of Covid. At first it was thought the infection had come from a Norwegian supplier, but this was later disproved. However, the incident led to a temporary slump in imports from northern hemisphere countries.
Above: Fish market in China
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Canadian seafood exporters welcome UK trade deal SEAFOOD leaders in Canada have welcomed the signing of a free trade deal with the UK, although the agreement is only temporary. The agreement means there will be no tariffs on farmed or wild caught ﬁsh exported to Britain next year. Tariffs on Canadian seafood to the European Union were abolished earlier this year under the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA). Paul Lansbergen, president of the Fisheries Council of Canada, said: “It cements the access that we’ve currently enjoyed under CETA. The UK is our ﬁfth largest single country export destination, so it is important for our sector and we’re pleased that this transitional deal was reached.” Canadian seafood exports to the UK total more than CAN $130 million a year (£74.9 million). There are also strong seafood business links between the two countries. Failure to come to a deal with the UK would probably cost the
Far left: Mary Ng Left: Paul Lansbergen
industry at least $11 million (£6.4 million) more each year. The Fisheries Council of Canada, which represents a wide spectrum of producers and processors in the industry, said the top seafood exports to the UK are salmon (35 per cent), shrimps and prawns (26 per cent), lobsters (25 per cent), and scallops (ﬁve per cent). Mary Ng, minister at Canada’s Ofﬁce of International Trade, told CBC News that the deal maintains “a competitive edge and preferential access to the UK market” for Atlantic Canadian seafood companies. The two countries hope to reach a permanent deal next year.
New MD for Biomar’s Turkish joint venture YASEMIN İşsever has been named as the new managing director of BioMar-Sagun, the Turkish joint venture of Danish feed company BioMar. The appointment follows the departure of Bora Aydemir. Bio-Mar Sagun has been in operation since 2016, supplying locally produced high performance diets, including grower feeds for
trout, sea bass and sea bream. starts her new role next week. She has previously been working for Turkish industrial group Abalıo lu since 2004, where for the last 10 years she headed the group’s aquaculture business managing both the ﬁsh farming and feed production areas. Ole Christensen,VP EMEA Division, BioMar Group. said; “I am very happy that Yasemin has accepted this challenge. We have an ambitious strategy for our joint venture together with Sagun Group, and we believe Yasemin will be highly valuable for the company going forward. Despite the challenges the Turkish market has experienced in the last years, our BioMar-Sagun JV has been showing promising results. We ﬁrmly believe that Yasemin together with our strong local team, will successfully continue the work on realising our ambitions in Turkey.” İşsever
Left: Yasemin İşsever
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Friend of the Sea standards set for rewrite
THE international certiﬁcation programme, Friend of the Sea, is consulting on revised standards for sustainable aquaculture. Friend of the Sea is a project of the World Sustainability Organisation. Its standards were established to ensure that consumers are able to choose products from sustainable sources that value ﬁsh welfare and the marine environment. Certiﬁed producers are able to use the “Friend of the Sea” branding
to identify their products as sustainable. The revision process applies to new “FOS – Aqua Inland-MarineStandard v.4”, “FOS – Audit Guidance for Aqua Inland-Marine Standard” and to all the 24 species-speciﬁc brand new Fish Welfare Standards and their related Audit Guidance. The species-speciﬁc standards target ﬁsh that are farmed at scale, including rainbow trout, brown trout and Atlantic salmon.
Stakeholders have been invited to contribute insights and knowledge for review and discussion by Friend of the Sea. “To achieve sustainability in aquaculture, we need to hear from everyone who has something useful to add,” said Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea. “Our revision process begins with an open-ended submission period, where we welcome ideas and documents from all relevant stakeholders.”
Tasmania’s Huon suffers two mass escapes AUSTRALIAN ﬁsh farmer Huon Aquaculture has suffered two mass escapes of salmon in less than two weeks.The Tasmania-based business was hit ﬁrst by a ﬁre at a pen in November which led to the escape of around 50,000 salmon, and then by a torn net on 2 December. In a statement on the second incident, CEO and co-founder Peter Bender said: “A signiﬁcant loss of ﬁsh has occurred (with an average weight of around 550 grams).We estimate between 120,000 and 130,000. Due to their small size these ﬁsh are unlikely to survive in the marine environment. This incident, coupled with the ﬁre at a pen in the Lower Channel last week, is hugely concerning.” The net tear has not been attributed to weather conditions and investigations are continuing into this and the earlier ﬁre, the company said. Bender also said:“We have electrical equipment on our pens, but in 35 years of farming we have never had an electrical ﬁre on a ﬁsh pen so the cause has bafﬂed us.” He also pointed out that as Tasmania has no native salmonids, there would be no harmful impact on wild ﬁsh stocks or marine fauna, an issue that can create problems when salmon escape in the northern hemisphere. Founded in 1986, Huon Aquaculture has grown to become the second largest salmon farmer in Tasmania employing over 500 people and producing around 25,000 tonnes a year.
AKVA seals deal for Chinese land-based farm AQUACULTURE technology group AKVA has signed a deal to work on Nordic Aqua Partner’s new land-based salmon ﬁrm in Ningbo, China. The project will be undertaken by AKVA’s land-based farming subsidiary Land Based Norway AS, and AKVA has committed to a stake of €3.1m in the venture. The Chinese operation, Nordic Aqua Ningbo, will use RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) technology to produce a projected 8,000 tonnes of salmon. The farm will be based in Ningbo province, which includes one of China’s busiest ports and lies across Hangzhou Bay from Shanghai. AKVA and Nordic Aqua Partner had already agreed the deal in principle by December last year, but the sign off was dependent on a fundraising round on the Oslo Stock Exchange by Nordic Aqua Partner, which was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The project is now expected to start in January. The value of AKVA’s delivery is estimated to be €50 million for the ﬁrst phase, producing 4,000 tonnes of ﬁsh. Right: AKVA’s Recircula�on Aquaculture System
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Baader sets up French operation
Standard for seafood processors is updated The global standard setting out good practice for seafood processing has been updated to provide more clarity on food safety measures
THE latest edition of the Seafood Processing Standard (SPS) is part of the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification programme. All operators seeking cerification under the programme must
comply with the new standard as from 16 January 2021. SPS Issue 5.1 includes new or revised statements regarding the outsourcing of processing, environmental monitoring and food-product
testing and on food safety as it pertains to canning, thermal processing and other specialty processing methods. The revised standard also strengthens employee rights and protection. Chris Weeks, BAP
program integrity manager said: “We look forward to the implementation of SPS 5.1, which provides additional information in the areas of outsourcing, food safety, environmental monitoring and employee health and safety.” SPS applies to processors of both wildcaught and farmed seafood, replacing the BAP Seafood Processing Plant Standard when it changed from BAP to Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) in February 2019. A sister organisation to the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), GSA also manages the Responsible Fishing Vessel Standard (RFVS). Best Aquaculture Practices is an international
Iceland Seafood invests in Ireland ICELAND Seafood Interna�onal (ISI) has completed the acquisi�on of the specialist Irish smoked salmon products company Carr & Sons in a deal worth almost £6 million. The oﬃcial purchase price is €6.5 million or 1 billion Icelandic kroner (ISK). In parallel with the acquisi�on of Carr & Sons, Iceland Seafood has also acquired a 33 per cent share in the ﬁsh processing plant Oceanpath in Ireland for 9 million euros, (equivalent to ISK 1.5 billion). Sixty percent of the purchase price will be paid in cash and 40 per cent in new shares in Iceland Seafood. Oceanpath, which acquired a 67 per cent share in the business in March 2018, will now be wholly owned by ISI. The move will make Oceanpath the largest producer of fresh seafood in Ireland. Bjarni Ármannsson, CEO of Iceland Seafood Interna�onal, said: “The purchase is part of the journey we at Iceland Seafood are on. To buy and build value-added companies that are deep inside the market and close to the customer and that give us the opportunity to use our knowledge and strength in purchasing, produc�on and marke�ng. We believe that Carr & Sons ﬁts in very well with that policy.” Right: Carr and Sons smoked salmon
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SPS applies to processors of both wild-caught and farmed seafood
certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture production chain. More information on the SPS Isssue 5.1 can be found in the BAP’s FAQ.
Above: Petra Baader
FOOD processing machinery manufacturer Baader is opening a subsidiary in Nantes, France. The new company, Baader France, will serve both the ﬁsh and poultry processing sectors and will be supported by a sales force in Boulognesur-Mer. Previously, Baader was represented in France by Mondial Navys, which was Baader’s oﬃcial distributor. Petra Baader, execu�ve chairwoman Baader said: “The opening of Baader France in Nantes marks a milestone for our company. It represents our ambi�on to globally join forces across our industry sectors. At the same �me, we strengthen our philosophy of being ‘in the region for the region’”. The new en�ty will be led by Serge Lorenzini, currently general manager, Linco France. Over the next three months, Mondial Navys will hand over its ac�vi�es to Baader France. Employees from Mondial Navys will be joining the new company once it is fully established and plans to create more local jobs are set for the near future, the company said.
What might the outcome of the US presidential race mean for aquaculture? BY ROBERT OUTRAM
n a bi�erly fought US presiden�al elec�on – which has s�ll not seen an oﬃcial concession from the defeated incumbent – it’s fair to say that aquaculture was not one of the key points at issue. The transfer of power could, however, have implica�ons for the industry, both for businesses in the US and those that export to American consumers. To get an idea of what a Joe Biden presidency could mean for ﬁsh farmers, it’s worth a look back at how the Trump administra�on saw the industry. Donald Trump was a vocal cri�c of what he saw as red tape and unnecessary regula�on, and he also saw a trade deﬁcit – in any sector – as an aﬀront to na�onal pride. Trump’s appointee as Commerce Department Secretary, Wilbur Ross, said at his conﬁrma�on hearing in 2017: “Given the enormity of our coastlines, given the enormity of our freshwater, I would like to try to ﬁgure out how we can become much more self-suﬃcient in ﬁshing and perhaps even a net exporter.” In fact, the seafood trade deﬁcit widened even further, from $13.8 billion in 2016 to $16.6 billion in 2019. Analysis by Intraﬁsh shows that Donald Trump’s trade war with China reduced America’s bilateral trade deﬁcit with that country, shrinking it by nearly 32 per cent between 2016 and 2019. There was some collateral damage to US seafood exports to China, such as lobster, which also declined steeply.
Trump also imposed extra tariﬀs on European Union produce – including the UK – in a ba�le over aircra� subsidies. The tariﬀs hit exports to the US and the EU’s retaliatory measures imposed an es�mated $4bn in extra tariﬀs on US goods, including some seafood products. Trade policy alone, however, won’t build an aquaculture industry in the US. In May 2020, President Trump issued an execu�ve order: “Promo�ng American Seafood Compe��veness and Economic Growth”. Its purpose was set out at the start: “America needs a vibrant and compe��ve seafood industry to create and sustain American jobs, put safe and healthy food on American tables, and contribute to the American economy. Despite America’s boun�ful aqua�c resources, by Top: Joe Biden Above: Donald Trump weight our Na�on imports over 85 percent of Opposite: Almaco jack the seafood consumed in the United States.” The Order of 7 May sets out to remove or streamline regulatory barriers in the way of
What does Biden bring? expanding the US ﬁshing and aquaculture industries. For aquaculture, it commits to providing a decision within two years from when the lead agency has determined that it will prepare an environmental impact statement and either streamlines or paces �me limits on other aspects of regula�on. The Order also commits to an updated Na�onal Aquaculture Plan. Also, in the autumn a bipar�san group of lawmakers introduced a dra� act: “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act” or AQUAA. They included senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). As well as providing for streamlined regula�on and planning processes, it also mandates government funding for developing and sharing knowledge in ﬁelds like aquaculture engineering and gene�cs. In prac�ce, ge�ng approval for major marine farm projects has been fraught with diﬃculty. So far marine ﬁsh farming in the US has been limited to three states: Washington, Maine and Hawaii. In Washington, Canadian farmer Cooke Aquaculture has run into cri�cism over ﬁsh escapes – which led to a state law banning the farming of non-na�ve species – and overharves�ng of feed ﬁsh. Proposal for a marine farm in the Gulf of Mexico, producing 20,000 almaco jack – a ﬁsh na�ve to that part of the world – was put forward in 2016 by entrepreneur Neil Sims as the “Velella Epsilon Project”. Sims believes that farms based oﬀshore in deeper water, in stronger currents, can avoid
many of the problems of inshore sites. Years on, however, debate is s�ll raging over whether it should be permi�ed. Suppor�ng the drive to promote aquaculture is the Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) coali�on, which provided advice and support to the legislators behind the AQAA bill. In a statement provided to Fish Farmer, SATS said: “Both Republicans and Democrats understand the importance of increasing sustainable US seafood produc�on and, regardless of elec�on outcomes, the US seafood community has reason to be hopeful. There is strong bipar�san support in both the House and Senate for oﬀshore aquaculture legisla�on, which will bring economic recovery and new jobs across the seafood supply chain. The Execu�ve Order on Seafood Compe��veness is currently underway and is widely supported by both American stakeholders and career staﬀ at the agencies of jurisdic�on, including USDA [the US Department of Agriculture], the Department of Commerce and NOAA [the Na�onal Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra�on]. This uniﬁed eﬀort boosts the U.S. economy, public health and ocean ecosystems through seafood produc�on, both wild and farm-raised, will likely con�nue irrespec�ve of who occupies the Oval Oﬃce.” News of Biden’s victory sparked – or coincided with – an upsurge for seafood stocks. There’s no reason to believe, however, that Biden will immediately reverse all of Trump’s ac�ons on trade. Long term ac�on to promote aquaculture, while not without controversy, is being presented as a bipar�san ini�a�ve – a new president might not make all that much diﬀerence. So, Biden’s greatest boost for the industry might be achieved if he can manage the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine roll-out, and get consumers dining out again. FF
Ge�ng approval for major marine farm “projects has been fraught with diﬃculty ”
A revised strategy for aquaculture south of the border looks for tenfold growth BY TIM HUNTINGTON
nglish aquaculture has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, producing around 8,000 metric tonnes (mt) a year, mainly rainbow trout, mussels and oysters worth around £26 million. The sector employs just over 1,000 people. By comparison, Scotland produced around 218,000 mt of farmed ﬁn and shellﬁsh in 2019. English wild ﬁsh and shellﬁsh landings are around 104,000 mt. Yet despite its rela�vely small size, aquaculture in England is an important local industry in some rural and coastal communi�es. So why do we need a strategy for English aquaculture and why now? Firstly, the Seafood 2040 (SF2040) Strategic Framework, published in December 2017, noted the urgent need for a “growth strategy” for English aquaculture. This was further catalysed by the forma�on of the Aquaculture Leadership Group (ALG) within the SF2040 programme. Secondly, we are at a watershed in seafood supply, with the UK leaving the European Union and rapid changes in onshore and oﬀshore aquaculture technology that could play to England’s strengths of world-class biotechnology research capacity, large and diversifying seafood markets and a strengthening regional government. The EAS was published in late November 2020 and sets the scene for
English Aquaculture.indd 26
aquaculture growth and development over the next 20 years leading to 2040. It is aspira�onal, envisioning nearly a tenfold increase in produc�on volume to around 90,000 mt. This will be achieved by moving tradi�onal ac�vi�es oﬀshore (as pioneered by Oﬀshore Shellﬁsh Ltd in South Devon); by developing new produc�on systems such as land-based recircula�on; and through new products such as macroalgae and sea-grown rainbow trout. The EAS consists of a series of strategic objec�ves and principles (see box, facing page). Overseen by the ALG, the EAS provides a series of priori�sed and �me-bound ac�ons that will be implemented through a co-management approach between the industry, government, Seaﬁsh, the regulators and their advisory agencies. In par�cular the EAS recognises and promotes two emerging strategic threads of English aquaculture. The ﬁrst is that the development of aquaculture is best planned and facilitated at a regional level as exempliﬁed by the recently published Dorset Marine Aquaculture Strategy (which can be found at dorsetcoast.com/projects/aquaculture/ ). Secondly, English aquaculture needs to contribute to, and become part of, the wider English blue economy. This will require the development of synergies with capture ﬁsheries, coastal tourism and oﬀshore energy genera�on, a process that is already being progressed by universi�es,
We are at “a watershed in seafood supply
will no doubt remain the mainstay of Sco�sh ﬁnﬁsh produc�on. Finally, the SF2040 programme provides the pla�orm to ini�ate the ac�ons therein, support the progress and champion and encourage the work in partnership with government and industry. as well as private and public sector mari�me investment hubs around the country. An ar�cle by Mar�n Jaﬀa in July’s edi�on of Fish Farmer reﬂected on the failure of the previous strategy for English aquaculture in 2012. This new 2020 strategy is markedly diﬀerent in a number of ways. The growth aspira�ons balance produc�on poten�al with market demand. Much of the growth will be in species already reared in England, and novel species will play a rela�vely small part in future English aquaculture produc�on. It also diﬀers in that it reﬂects industry’s views and those of the government and public sector regulators, crea�ng a more coherent approach than before. It recognises a number of recent game changers – one being the growing market for indigenous microalgae for non-food uses such as bioplas�cs to replace oil-based plas�cs. Another is the rise of economically viable recircula�ng aquaculture systems (RAS) that are rapidly increasing in scale and ﬂexibility. Whilst we understand some of Dr Jaﬀa’s scep�cism over RAS, we are convinced they will become an important component of English aquaculture over the next twenty years, ﬁlling a diﬀerent niche to the open-pen farmed ﬁsh that Opposite from top: Morecombe Bay Oysters Ltd; Tim Hun�ngton; Woman at the microscope Photo:
Dorset Coast Forum / Bu�erﬂy Eﬀect Films/ Dorset Cleaner Fish
This page clockwise from top right: Morecombe Bay oysters farm; Trout farm. Photo: Bri�sh Trout Associa�on; Working at the large tank. Photo:
Dorset Coast Forum / Bu�erﬂy Eﬀect Films/ Dorset Cleaner Fish; Shellﬁsh farm. Photo: OﬀshoreShellﬁsh-Ltd; Workboat. Photo; Erik-Woolco�--SeaGrown-Ltd.-1; Seaweed. Photo: Erik-Woolco�--SeaGrown-Ltd.
The EAS was commissioned by SF2040 and facilitated by Seaﬁsh in partnership with Defra and industry. It was prepared by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd. The English Aquaculture Strategy documents are available to download from the Seaﬁsh website www.seaﬁsh.org/ seafood-2040-english-aquaculture-strategy. FF
1. A ten-fold growth and diversiﬁca�on of aquaculture in England over the next 20 years.
Aquaculture opera�ons both establish and follow good prac�ce across the supply chain in terms of animal health and welfare, environmental stewardship, food safety and conducive working condi�ons
2. English farmed produc�on contributes at least 15% of overall seafood consump�on in England by 2040
Aquaculture development should be regulated in a propor�onate and balanced way. Innova�on will be core to the development of new produc�on systems, feeds and products.
3. Produce sustainable, safe and nutri�ous food.
The development of low trophic species or the use of integrated mul�trophic aquaculture should be encouraged to contribute to England’s net-carbon zero ambi�ons.
4. Provide up to 5,000 secure and re\warding jobs by 2040.
Eﬀec�ve co-existence of aquaculture with other mari�me ac�vi�es, including wild capture ﬁsheries, is key.
5. An integral component of the English ‘Blue Economy’. Aquaculture produc�on should be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
Aquaculture can provide a diverse range of job opportuni�es across the supply chain
English Aquaculture.indd 27
Tim Huntington is director of Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd.
A co-management, partnering approach is developed between regulators, the industry and other stakeholders. Strategy implementa�on will occur through a combina�on of na�onal and regional ac�ons. 27
Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation
BY HAMISH MACDONELL
Open door policy If we’re proud of what we do, let’s invite people to come and see fish farming in action
f truth is the first casualty of war, it’s undoubtedly the case that impartiality takes a fair few body blows too – and not just during war. Just consider what has happened throughout this pandemic. As everyone who farms salmon knows, it’s impossible to get a feel for what really goes on out at sea unless you’ve been there and seen it. This is doubly true for those who report on our sector. One of the most important tools that we have in trying to secure balanced coverage is to get journalists out to the farms to see for themselves. But, for the last nine months, this has been impossible. No-one but essential staff have been allowed. All press visits have stopped. All media access has been shut off. Some in the sector might see this as a good thing: after all, out of sight, out of mind and all that. If we aren’t drawing attention to ourselves, then surely they have nothing to write about. Well, no: that’s not how it has worked out. What happens to journalists stuck behind their desks is that they rely on second-hand – sometimes third-hand – accounts and tired old clippings to inform their pieces (I should know, I was in that position myself often enough). This means that the same old tropes keep going round and round with no fresh, first-hand experience to challenge them. Right in the middle of the pandemic, the SSPO was involved in lengthy and, at first, very constructive, talks with BBC producers. The SSPO had approached the BBC with the aim of getting a positive piece on air about 50 years of salmon farming in Scotland. Initially, the producers were enthusiastic, offering to do a lengthy feature on one episode of a prominent countryside show chronicling the success of salmon and another episode on the challenges the sector faces. But as discussions continued, it became clear that the positive piece was shrinking and the negative piece was gaining ground. In the end, the BBC proposed lumping it all in together in a single episode, the short positive piece running at the start and the negative piece closing the programme, leaving viewers with a distinctly bad taste in their mouths – unsurprisingly the whole enterprise collapsed. There has always been a tendency in the media to favour the negative over the positive but the pandemic seems to have exacerbated this trend. One of the reasons for this is the new footage broadcasters have, readily supplied by our critics. The activists have no qualms about putting the health and welfare of our fish and our employees in danger by making unauthorised visits to farms to film.
Hamish MacDonnell.indd 28
This means that media organisations get given footage, often of dubious provenance, but – for the moment at least - we are not able to invite those same broadcasters on to our farms to find out what is really going on. It was all supposed to be so different. This year was due to be the year we launched our Open Farm Initiative, opening up sites in every farming area of Scotland. Although the aim was to get those in the local communities to come out to the farms and see what really goes on, there was a clear plan to get decision-makers, opinion formers and journalists out to the farms too. Ironically, the year that we had earmarked to champion openness and transparency was the year when everything had to be shut down for all but the most essential of visits. The intention remains, however, and this is crucial to what we do as a sector going forward. If we accept that much of the negative reporting of our sector comes from ignorance, then the way to overturn that is to be open, to invite as many people as possible to see what we do and how we do it. It has been immensely frustrating that we haven’t been able to do that. Earlier this year, the former BBC Today programme editor Sarah Sands wrote a highly critical piece about salmon farming in the Mail on Sunday. On the back of that, the SSPO got in contact and offered to take Ms Sands to a farm to see for herself – when the restrictions are lifted. Will that in itself stop Ms Sands from being critical? Probably not. But would it lead to more balance in her pieces? Almost certainly. No one knows when we will be able to make good on that offer; everything is frustratingly on hold until life gets back to some semblance of normality. But there is an overriding theme here. If we
We need to be open, welcoming, forthcoming and transparent
Open door policy
are proud of what we do, and I think everyone in the sector is, then we should shout about it. We should welcome everybody to see what we do and be as open and transparent as we possibly can be. That was the message in our Sustainability Charter, which has just been launched. It even talked about the possibility of a salmon centre visitor experience, perhaps starting on a road that has brought so much success for whisky. We need to be open, welcoming, forthcoming and transparent. If we want to see balance in those newspaper articles and broadcast
Hamish MacDonnell.indd 29
pieces, then we have to get all those journalists to farms, hatcheries, processing plants and harvest stations. For almost a full year, we have been shut down. Ideas have become entrenched with nothing to challenge them, tired old arguments have been reheated and claims have been repeated with little opportunity to question them. This will change and we should make sure that, when we finally emerge, blinking, into the post-Covid world, we make up for this lost time. Those twin themes of openness and transparency are so important, they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be allowed to gather dust. If we embrace them properly, they will, in turn, protect and nurture the concept of impartiality. It is vital that they do: the future of our sector might well depend on it. FF
Above: Cherry Healey with David Robinson (photo: Barbora Gaborova, Wester Ross)
BY DR MARTIN JAFFA
Shape of pings to come Banning the use of acoustic deterrents could leave marine mammals worse off
rime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a new energy strategy which he described as a green industrial revolution. Included in the plans is the ambition to quadruple offshore wind power to 40GW by 2030. This should provide enough energy to power every home in the UK, but meeting the target will require up to 6,000 offshore windmills. The installation process for each windmill involves using a specialist hydraulic ram to set a “monopile” – a steel tube of about 6m diameter – into the seabed. Once set, the windmill is attached to the monopile. I mention all this because the process of ramming the foundation of the windmill into the seabed is an extremely noisy process which could disturb cetaceans, such as dolphins, porpoises and whales. To ensure that these creatures stay well out of harm’s way, the construction companies place
Martin Jaffa.indd 30
acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs) around the area. In Germany, the use of these devices is mandatory. ADDs are also used in a variety of other industries, including the fishing and aquaculture sectors. Under EU rules, ADDs, or “pingers”, are mandatory on fishing vessels of more than 12m in length, but these represent only two per cent of all boats using static nets. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, more than 1,000 porpoises die every year caught up in such nets, yet when Cornish fishermen applied for a licence to use pingers to help reduce this by-catch, the licence was refused on the grounds that the pingers could disturb a protected species by putting noise into the environment. Under current legislation, which does slightly vary between England and Scotland, it is illegal to deliberately or recklessly disturb, injure, kill or capture whales, dolphins and porpoises. It seems that the regulators would rather the porpoises died in the nets than be deterred from getting near them. How the legislation is interpretated has led to all sorts of confusion. The Coastal Communities Network (CCN) in Scotland is demanding that ADDs on salmon farms are banned. They say that many farms don’t use them, and that this shows farms can operate without them. They seem to ignore the fact that many farms don’t have a local seal population, which is why they don’t need to use ADDs. In the future, ADDs will, however, have to be licensed by Marine Scotland and farms will need to prove that they don’t harm the protected species. Above: Common seals Like salmon farming itself, ADDs are continuing to evolve. Dolphins, Left: Offshore wind porpoises and toothed whales use high or very high frequencies to farm communicate and hence to hear, so the new generation ADDs operate between these high frequencies and the very low frequencies used by baleen whales. They are also much more targeted, with thermal sensors that switch on the deterrent when a heat source, such as a seal, approaches a farm. The concept of different animals operating on different frequencies will be familiar to dog owners, whose pets can hear whistles that are silent to the human ear. In much the same way, the “Mosquito” deterrent has been deployed to
Shape of pings to come
stop large groups of teenagers congregating in town centres. The noise emitted is undetected by most of the public but young people have more sensitive hearing. They find the noise objectionable and move away within minutes. This is how ADDs on salmon farms work, yet critics consider their use reckless. They claim that the noise is like sonic torture but as with teenagers, the whales, dolphins and porpoises are unlikely to move towards noise sources they find unpleasant. Of course, people in the salmon farming industry would rather not use ADDs. They did not like shooting seals, either. But no-one has come up with a solution should a seal manage to get into a pen with the fish. Critics say farmers should use double layers of reinforced nets but, not surprisingly, some seals still overcome these obstacles. Salmon companies regularly post images of dolphins, porpoises and whales swimming in the vicinity of salmon pens. They are welcome visitors and there is never any intention of disturbing them. There has
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are unlikely to move towards noise sources they find unpleasant
Martin Jaffa.indd 31
been a prosecution for such harassment, but by someone on a jet ski. Determining what is disturbance can be difficult. Some of the most outspoken critics are the owners of whale watching tours but it could be said that such activities are also a form of harassment. Like all boats and ships which emit extensive noise, tourist boats could easily disturb protected animals as much as an ADD on a salmon farm. The underlying problem is that ADDs are not the primary target of lobby groups such as CCN. They simply don’t like salmon farming in their area and will use any means of attack to ensure farms are moved. The word “nimby” springs to mind. It will be interesting to see whether CCN, which is not exclusively based in the west, will campaign against Boris’s new green industrial revolution. Wind farms are just as likely to be sited around Scotland as they are in the rest of the UK and they will all need to be protected by ADDs. FF
BY VINCE MCDONAGH
In the pink The colour of the ﬁsh we eat depends on the food we give them, scientists have discovered
ome more discerning consumers o�en complain that salmon is not as pink as it used to be. They probably have a point. An intriguing research project by Noﬁma, the Norwegian Ins�tute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, hopes to show why salmon ﬁllets are becoming paler even though ﬁsh are receiving more dye in their feed. Noﬁma says the red colour of salmon meat comes from the pigment astaxanthin, found in several types of ﬁsh and shellﬁsh, which is added to the feed. According to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry’s research funding body (FHF), the pigment level in salmon ﬁllets has decreased in recent years, with some ﬁsh farmers this year repor�ng some of the lowest pigment levels yet recorded. Both the feed and the stress levels of the salmon have changed over �me. Farmed salmon now eat feed with a lower propor�on of marine raw materials. This can increase the ﬁsh’s need for the pigment astaxanthin, which is also an an�oxidant. The researchers are planning to inves�gate how the composi�on of feed aﬀects the colour of the ﬁllet, along with the salmon’s ability to handle stressful processes such as delousing. Kris�an Prytz, head of aquaculture and processing at FHF, hopes
Colour fo Salmon - Vince.indd 32
the project will provide be�er knowledge allowing the industry to develop and use modern ingredients in feed that do not aﬀect pigmenta�on. The work will build on an earlier FHF project where researchers from Noﬁma and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) inves�gated the connec�on between the feed’s content of marine raw materials and the colour of the salmon ﬁllet. It seems that where there is less marine raw material in the feed, there are also fewer fats, such as phospholipid, which can aﬀect how pigment is u�lized by the salmon. “We found a lot of interest in the FHF project, but we were also le� with new ques�ons which we need answers,” said senior Noﬁma researcher Trine Ytrestøyl. In summary, the research shows that colouring can be greatly aﬀected when changing the feed composi�on: Other points made by Noﬁma show: • The amount of phospholipid in the feed aﬀected the salmon’s ability to digest astaxanthin and fat. Too low a level of phospholipid in the feed caused the salmon to grow more slowly. • With much less ﬁshmeal in the feed, the appe�te of the salmon decreases, and fat was deposited in the intes�ne. • When phospholipid was added to feed low in ﬁsh meal, it normalised salmon diges�bility and growth. • Salmon that received feed supplemented with marine phospholipid in the feed deposited less fat in the intes�ne than salmon that received the plant-based phospholipid soy lecithin in the feed. • Although pigment diges�bility was similar in the two groups, the salmon that received soya lecithin had the reddest ﬁllets.
Above: Salmon ﬁllet Left: Fillets with diﬀerent shades Opposite: Salmon colour chart
In the pink
The results from this experiment show that although the uptake into the intes�ne is a bo�leneck for the u�lisa�on of astaxanthin, what happens a�er this is also very important in determining how much of the pigment ends up in the salmon muscle, said Trine Ytrestøyl. She added: “The project will inves�gate whether there is a connec�on between the content of vitamin A in the feed and the colour in salmon muscle, and whether it is important for colouring if the salmon is stressed. “We will also work more on the importance of phospholipids in the feed for the colour of the salmon. We will compare phospholipids from plants with phospholipids from marine sources, to see how this can aﬀect the u�liza�on of astaxanthin in salmon.” She said that during the project, which is being carried out in collabora�on with NTNU and Skre�ng, they will inves�gate whether there is a connec�on between the content of vitamin A in the feed and the colour in salmon muscle, and whether it is important for colouring that the salmon is stressed. Ytrestøyl, who has a doctorate in pigmenta�on, said she is looking forward to ge�ng even more in depth on basic biology. In addi�on to feeding experiments, cell models and new advanced methods (gene edi�ng by CRISPR / Cas9) will also be used to inves�gate mechanisms for how astaxanthin is u�lized in salmon.
Colour fo Salmon - Vince.indd 33
She concluded: “Based on experiments in mammals, we have selected some candidate genes that we want to inves�gate the func�on of, using gene edi�ng (CRISPR). These are genes that are involved in the uptake, turnover and deposi�on of astaxanthin in various �ssues and organs.” Despite the fact that the colour of the salmon ﬁllet is an important quality from the consumer’s point of view, too li�le is s�ll known about how external factors and biological mechanisms interact and lead to reduced staining of the salmon ﬁllet. So salmon gourmets will have to wait a li�le longer to ﬁnd out if their salmon ﬁllets could be a li�le more pink. FF
ﬁsh “Some farmers this year reported some of the lowest pigment levels yet recorded
Testing times As this issue goes to press, there is only one question: deal or no deal? BY SANDY NEILL
t last, with at least three eﬀec�ve vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic on the way, it seems hopeful that normal life will return gradually next year. However, one uncertainty has been immediately replaced by another: Brexit. At the �me of wri�ng, every man, woman and dog in Britain is wai�ng to hear: deal or no deal. The Brexit transi�on period ends at the stroke of midnight on 31 December 2020. With or without a deal, it will mean major change – but preparing for this without knowing what 1 January will bring has proved near-impossible. We asked Brexit experts in Scotland’s food and sector what this has meant for them – and they didn’t hold back. Let’s begin big, with Scotland’s largest employer, the food and drink industry, accoun�ng for one in ﬁve manufacturing jobs, and worth £15 billion to the Sco�sh economy each year. Right (top): Donna Fordyce “Businesses simply are not prepared for Brexit, (below): Robbie and that is through no fault of their own,” said John Landsburgh, SSPO Davidson, strategy and external aﬀairs director at Opposite: EU nego�ator trade associa�on Scotland Food & Drink. Michel Barnier With under a month to go, he said: “The way we import and export goods, bring in essen�al labour for our farms, factories and boardrooms, and manage the safety of our products will all change, and incredibly, we s�ll don’t know what the new rules will be. “Tariﬀs, border disrup�on for high value perishable goods, and cer�ﬁca�on costs are all far greater threats for the food and drink sector
Sandy Neil feature.indd 34
than they are for other sectors in the economy. So what the UK Government does in the next month is cri�cal to the survival of many food, drink, farming, ﬁshing and seafood businesses and the supply chain and jobs they support.” “Border disrup�on is a key concern for ﬁsh and seafood businesses,” he added. “Given the nature and value of the seafood supply chain, which operates on a just-in-�me model, it is vital that smooth transit con�nues in order to fulﬁl orders and retain customer conﬁdence, especially in the face of current market disrup�on and ﬁerce compe��on. “We already know exports of salmon are down 25 per cent in the ﬁrst six months of the year, and we expect this trend to con�nue for the remainder of 2020 and into next year as the world con�nues to ﬁght the pandemic. “Brexit will only exacerbate this challenge,
and we expect our seafood businesses to be par�cularly aﬀected given that the EU is the des�na�on for 70 per cent of seafood exports. The majority of this operates on a just-in-�me supply chain model, meaning that any delays or disrup�on at the border could have signiﬁcant adverse ﬁnancial consequences.” “For processors, access to labour is a big risk too. Many businesses are extremely reliant on labour from the EU, such as the North East [of Scotland] where more than 70 per cent of the workforce in seafood processing are EU na�onals.” What would be the best, and worst, case scenario for the industry as a whole? “A no deal will be disastrous for the Sco�sh food and drink sector,” he explained: “It is already facing a £3 billion hit from Coronavirus and the untold disrup�on of a no deal Brexit would undoubtedly sink some businesses. A no deal would decimate our seafood exports, for which the EU is the biggest market, and our red meat industry could face crippling tariﬀs.” Earlier in November, Scotland Food & Drink joined other industry leaders including the Sco�sh Salmon Producers’ Organisa�on, the Sco�sh Seafood Associa�on and Seafood Scotland to call for four measures that would mi�gate the damages of Brexit. They requested: a six-month “grace period” to allow any new trading rules to bed in and for businesses to adapt, a package of ﬁnancial compensa�on to keep viable businesses aﬂoat, ﬁnalise opera�onal arrangements for seafood consignments across the channel, and to add the food and drink sector to the Sco�sh Shortage Occupa�on List. Could Brexit beneﬁt the industry? “It remains to be seen whether Brexit will beneﬁt our salmon and other food producers,” Davidson replied. “The prospect of tariﬀs and disrup�on
Sandy Neil feature.indd 35
at the border is deeply concerning. Whilst other new market opportuni�es could emerge in the future, trade deals and new substan�al markets could be some �me away. And then, even if market access is granted, it takes �me and signiﬁcant investment to gain market penetra�on for Sco�sh products.” Donna Fordyce, head of Seafood Scotland, the na�onal trade and marke�ng body for the Sco�sh seafood industry, said: “Scotland’s seafood companies are not currently preparing for a deal, because, quite simply, there isn’t one at present.” “Instead, the sector as a whole is preparing for a no deal. If a deal does transpire before the transi�on period ends, then of course that will be a bonus, but with only weeks to go any agreement on a deal will be to a very �ght deadline. “Many companies have put a lot of �me and eﬀort into their Brexit arrangements and have got as far as they can, but there are s�ll so many unanswered ques�ons. Every �me businesses think they’ve ﬁgured out a solu�on to a Brexit issue, they pull back another layer and realise there’s more to think about. “There is a wealth of informa�on and papers out there in a bid to provide some guidance, but it’s a lot to process. The Border Opera�ng Model, for example, is a 138 page document and for smaller companies in par�cular, who have spent the year ﬁreﬁgh�ng their way through the Covid crisis, there just hasn’t been the suﬃcient �me or resources
companies have put a lot of �me and eﬀort “intoMany their Brexit arrangements… but there are s�ll so many unanswered ques�ons ” 35
Top: Fishing protestor Above: Boris Johnston Opposite: Sco�sh salmon farm; Sco�sh trawlers
Sandy Neil feature.indd 36
to get ready for Brexit, so I’m afraid to say many are feeling woefully unprepared.” What are the sector’s main concerns? “Our main concern,” she replied, “is that despite companies pu�ng in huge amounts of eﬀort to try to prepare as best they can for Brexit, ul�mately the systems required to facilitate it all will not have been tried and tested. This could lead to delays and chaos at the border. In the case of fresh or live seafood, any delays en route to market can impact the value of the product and it could end up that by the �me it reaches its EU des�na�on, the product is no longer ﬁnancially viable.” She added: “Transporters are mainly concerned about the addi�onal paperwork and poten�al blockages at the borders. Coming from Scotland we’ve also got the disadvantage of added distance, so considera�on also must be given to the legal number of hours that the drivers are permi�ed to work. “Processors and smokers are deeply concerned about the poten�al tariﬀs. A�er years of encouraging the sector to add as much value as possible to its seafood via processing and smoking etc, it looks like the proposed tariﬀs are set to penalise this. This could force Sco�sh companies to essen�ally act as traders and truck out product unprocessed, leaving buyers in the EU to process/smoke the product in their own country, which would lead to a detrimental impact on factories and subsequently jobs in Scotland. “Overall, the aquaculture sector is also concerned about the future of its workforce. EU na�onals account for around 56 per cent of employees overall in the sector… so there are fears around keeping those skills in Scotland without the freedom of movement of EU ci�zens.” What is their best and worst case scenario? ‘The best scenario we could hope for would be a trade deal with no tariﬀs that would include a transi�on period to allow suﬃcient �me for all the processes required to be implemented,” she answered. “For example, at the moment we don’t have enough environmental health oﬃcers to check oﬀ cer�ﬁca�ons, we don’t have enough licences for the trucks to be able to travel into Europe, we don’t have enough heat treated pallets to actually get product into the EU, so we really need that addi�onal �me to work through all of these types of logis�cs. Without that safety net, we could poten�ally be looking at transport delays, leading to the spoiling and wastage of product which could ul�mately lead to trade temporarily hal�ng altogether.” What beneﬁts could Brexit bring to Scotland’s seafood industry?
Fordyce said: “Obviously one of the key beneﬁts of Brexit will be that the catching sector won’t be subject to the same stringent quotas that are currently in EU legisla�on. The freshly enacted ﬂagship Fisheries Bill means that the UK will have power over its ﬁshing waters for the ﬁrst �me since 1973. Taking back control of our own ﬁshing waters has long been argued as one of the biggest beneﬁts of Brexit and many of our ﬁshing communi�es enthusias�cally agree. This could lead to a buoyed Bri�sh appe�te for Sco�sh caught ﬁsh.” “Even if there is a deal with the EU and there are no or low tariﬀs, as an industry that has to ship much of its produce either live or incredibly fresh, we will have to deal with new bureaucracy which will be ﬁnancially damaging. Catch cer�ﬁcates, health cer�ﬁcates and export forms, will all take up more �me and create added costs for businesses that already operate on �ght margins. “There is no doubt that the months ahead will prove to be challenging for the seafood industry, but our team is ready with prac�cal help and advice to help the industry.” The Brexit expert at the Sco�sh Salmon Producers’ Organisa�on (SSPO), Robbie Landsburgh, said: “They [ﬁsh farmers] are preparing similarly for both scenarios, as there won’t be a huge diﬀerence between the two in terms of paperwork and non-tariﬀ barriers.” “For tariﬀs, individual companies will need to prepare their own con�ngency strategies, but there will inevitably be concerns for them about cost implica�ons of tariﬀs as well as market compe��veness in the EU, though perhaps less so for fresh salmon. Given the lack of transport permits in a no-deal scenario, transport con�ngency planning is also a concern and there is work ongoing with hauliers on this.” The best case scenario, he explained, would
We would like the “certainty that a free
trade deal would bring
be “a comprehensive, zero tariﬀ free trade agreement and a grace period to implement, on a phased basis over 2021, the changes arising from the UK leaving the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. “This could, perhaps, mirror the GB Border Opera�ng Model and apply it to the EU side, or alterna�vely, there could be a more general coopera�ve accord between the UK and EU on phasing in certain requirements. If we get this outcome, there will s�ll be red tape and bureaucracy in the fullness of �me. However, it will be manageable.” Conversely, the worst outcome for the sector, he said, would be “an acrimonious no-deal.” He went on: “It would mean not only the full suite of poten�al non-tariﬀ trade barriers being applied to our EU-bound exports on 1 January 2021 but also tariﬀs. The arrangements for transport to and within the EU for UK hauliers in a no-deal scenario give very li�le comfort. And if the talks break down acrimoniously, the incen�ve to make border processes go smoothly, and for the two sides to cooperate to mi�gate any problems, would likely be diminished.” What would ﬁsh farmers like from the UK and Sco�sh governments? “We would like the certainty that a free trade deal would bring. It wouldn’t mean things would carry on as before – far from it – but it would provide a stable backdrop to trade, a basis for coopera�on and, of course, no tariﬀs if agreed as the par�es have said they intend it to. Transport issues would hopefully be resolved sa�sfactorily with a deal too. More broadly, we would like an emphasis on good trading rela�ons with the EU and with non-EU countries, with low fric�on in trade in goods. And, where and when poli�cal interven�on or the machinery of government needs to be involved, both governments should be prepared to step in to help with any major challenges arising from Brexit in the coming months and years.” What tariﬀs are ﬁsh farmers planning for? “Tariﬀs are eﬀec�vely an import tax and that ul�mately represents a cost to the value chain and supply chain associated with the product sold to the consumer,” Landsburgh explained. Tariﬀs include a two per cent ad valorem levy on whole, fresh (head-on-gu�ed) salmon and fresh salmon ﬁllets and 13 per cent ad valorem for smoked salmon. Various commodity codes relevant to salmon and its by-products also a�ract MFN tariﬀs between the 2 per cent and 13 per cent levels when imported into the EU. What non-tariﬀ barriers are ﬁsh farmers
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an�cipa�ng? Landsburgh gave a long list: “Fish farmers are planning for Export Health Cer�ﬁcates (EHCs), customs declara�ons, and other customs processes and documenta�on, labelling; transport permits, transit permits, and heat-treated wooden pallet requirements. “A considerable amount of this new red tape will be outsourced to third party intermediaries, but salmon farmers will have to be aware of all the work required to put this in place and there will inevitably be a cost.” The epic sagas of coronavirus and Brexit, which we shall be telling our grandchildren about in years to come, are also stories of people ge�ng on with it as best they can. That is the constant thread that runs through turbulent �mes of change, and it will con�nue on long a�er Covid-19 and Brexit are ﬁnished. In the last days of November we were given a preview of the next chapter. If, as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced, the SNP plan to hold a second independence referendum early in the next parliament; and if, as the polls indicate, they will win a majority both in the May 2021 Holyrood elec�on and in a second referendum; Scotland may ﬁnd itself returning to the EU, crea�ng yet further change. FF
Profile – Tavish Scott
Getting the message across As an advocate for the salmon industry, Tavish Scott draws on both his political experience and his island roots BY ROBERT OUTRAM
TAVISH SCOTT CV
Wallace MP for 1989–1990: Parliamentary researcher to Jim ons Comm of Orkney and Shetland, House crats, Edinburgh 1990–1992: Press oﬃcer, Scottish Liberal Demo 1992–1999: Farmer, Shetland family farm cil 1994–1999: Councillor, Shetland Islands Coun Authority Port ick Lerw ee, Trust 1994–1999: Chairman and Shetland for 1999–2019: Member of the Scottish Parliament ment 2000–2001: Deputy minister for Scottish Parlia services and c publi , 2003–2005: Deputy minister for ﬁnance ess busin parliamentary et 2005–2007: Minister for Transport, Scottish Cabin omy Committee 2007–2008: Chair, Scottish Parliament’s Econ crats 2008–2011: Leader of the Scottish Liberal Demo for business and 2011–2019: Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman the economy Head of external aﬀairs, Scottish Rugby Union 2019: on CEO, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisati 2020: Hons BA and; Education: Anderson High School, Lerwick, Shetl urgh. Edinb ge, Colle r Business Studies, Napie
ish Farmer caught up with Tavish Sco�, chief execu�ve oﬃcer of the Sco�sh Salmon Producers’ Organisa�on shortly a�er he had ﬁnished a (virtual) session with the Sco�sh Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connec�vity Commi�ee (RECC). Sco� is no stranger to Holyrood, as a former Liberal Democrat MSP represen�ng Shetland and – during the coali�on between his party and Labour – a government minister. So, what was it like being on the other side of the commi�ee table, answering the ques�ons? He said: “I’ve been on the other side of the desk as a government minister, albeit a long �me ago. Then, you were expected to know everything! In fairness to the commi�ee today, they knew I had with me Anne [Anderson, the SSPO’s sustainability director] and Ben Hadﬁeld [managing director, Mowi Scotland], who do know everything, and they were excellent.” Tavish Sco� ’s appointment as CEO was announced by the SSPO in September this year, and he has taken up the role during what could be called “interes�ng �mes”. The RECC is revisi�ng salmon farming to assess progress two years on from the commi�ee’s cri�cal report on the industry; the SSPO has just brought out an ambi�ous sustainability
Tavish Scott.indd 38
charter, A Be�er Future For Us All; the Covid-19 pandemic; and there is, of course, the small ma�er of Brexit which is exercising the minds of the salmon producers and the food sector as a whole. Sco� le� poli�cs in 2019 to take up a new role as head of external aﬀairs for the Sco�sh Rugby Union, but the opportunity to head the SSPO and represent the salmon farming industry was just too good to turn down. As someone who grew up in (and represented) Shetland, his personal connec�ons with the industry are deep, and go back a long way. As he put it: “I have had a lot of experience with the sector. When I started as a councillor in Shetland in 1994, this was a young, vibrant industry set up by cro�ers in local voes [the Shetland equivalent of a “sea loch”] and it was cu�ng edge stuﬀ. People were learning all the �me. “Now in Shetland there are more jobs across the sector, both in terms of ﬁsh farming directly and the indirect supply chain. It is a hugely important part of the Shetland economy. Indeed, the seafood industry in total is now more important in value terms than gas, to Shetland.” He added: “A lot of my personal friends are involved in the sector. If ﬁsh farming didn’t exist there’d be a lot of small schools that
with anyone – group, body or individual – who wants to have a proper discussion
Getting the message across
wouldn’t have kids in them, and there would be parts of Shetland that would have no people. It’s kept some islands alive, no two ways about it. So I’m very proud to be working in this sector, and in this great job.” Sco� sees two external pressures the industry is currently facing: the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. On the pandemic, he said: “That has an impact on the prices our farmers get for the product, and it’s had an impact on demand, with no hospitality industry, restaurants closed, and the economy contracting.” He went on: “The second external pressure is Brexit and the uncertainty around that, created by the fact that as we speak [18 November] there is s�ll no deal and we don’t know how the arrangements will play out on 1 January. “We hope to see enormous progress on both of those in the coming days, never mind weeks.” The salmon industry, of course, also faces its own very speciﬁc challenges. An increasing global popula�on needs a supply of nutri�ous food, and ﬁsh farming can claim the lowest level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for any animal protein produc�on process. Even so, the industry needs to prove that it can be sustainable. This is the impera�ve behind the Sco�sh salmon industry’s sustainability charter, which sets out a series of commitments, not only on the environment but also on issues such as ﬁsh welfare and the industry’s rela�onship with local communi�es. Sco� said the most ambi�ous aim set out in the charter is “the one at the top”: a commitment to “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. He said: “My daughter runs a family farm on Shetland, and I’m acutely conscious of what climate change and reducing GHG mean for livestock produc�on. I get exactly the same point for the farmed ﬁsh sector as well. It is going to be a huge challenge. Fish farming should be front and centre in this debate; that’s why we’re being ambi�ous.” Sco� also stressed the importance of the commitment to work with local authori�es and
Tavish Scott.indd 39
other bodies to help provide housing and other beneﬁts to the communi�es within which the ﬁsh farms operate. He said: “We need housing because we need workers to live in those locali�es, which means kids in local schools, people buying from the local shop and so on, so the ques�on is can we come up with a mechanism to help local housing associa�ons and local authori�es to provide more housing in rural areas? I’d love for us to achieve that and to start achieving it next year.” Sco� sees it as “a good sign” that the MSPs at the RECC asked a lot of ques�ons about the sustainability charter. But as well as se�ng out what the industry hopes to deliver, he also has a message for the legislators about what the producers need: a be�er, more eﬃcient regulatory framework. He explained: “We will be playing an important central part in the economic resurgence of the UK and Sco�sh economies. We need the governments, plural, to recognise that, which in Scotland they absolutely do; but also to ensure that we’ve got a landscape in which we can be more produc�ve. For me that is a central challenge. We’re not arguing for ‘less regula�on’, we’re arguing for be�er and more eﬃcient regula�on.” He noted that a number of the SSPO’s member businesses farm in
Above: Tavish Sco� visits a farm site
Profile – Tavish Scott Sco� accepts, but he said: “There will always be a local dimension and we are always very respec�ul of the impact that we have as a sector in local communi�es. At the same �me, government has a role in terms of the wider picture. “But what we can respec�ully and reasonably ask for is that the decision making is consistent and runs to the same �mescale; that the objec�ve of all of the bodies is to work together, not against each other; and instead of all being statutory consultees layered on statutory consultees, which is the system at the moment, they reﬁne and enhance that to make it more eﬀec�ve and more eﬃcient. That is in the interests of government, the regulators and the ﬁsh farming sector.” Sco� is op�mis�c that the SSPO is ge�ng this message across to government and regulators. He said: “We are all trying to achieve the same thing. There will be a good old-fashioned debate about how we get to that objec�ve, but we’re very pleased that in the ministerial discussions that we’ve had, they have asked us to be blunt about what we’re trying to achieve. They recognise the point that we’re not asking for less regula�on, we’re asking for be�er regula�on, and they also recognise that we are saying that we know we have to pay for regula�on.” Meanwhile, at the �me we spoke with Sco� the outcome of the trade talks between the UK and European Union was s�ll far from clear. Like other industry bodies the SSPO has done as much as it can to help members prepare for a new rela�onship with Europe.
Left: Feeding �me Below left: Fish welfare is a priority Below: One of many people employed by the sector Right: Tavish Sco� out at the pens
other waters too, and in many cases their costs are higher in Scotland. Sco� said: “We’d like to see that addressed, but we’d like to see it addressed correctly responsibly and sustainably. That’s the discussion we’re having with government, and of course with our colleagues in the regulatory world.” Planning is a key issue for the SSPO. Typically an applica�on for a new farm site, or for investment in an exis�ng site, requires a separate approval process on the part of mul�ple regulatory and planning authori�es, which will o�en appear as consultee bodies in each other’s processes. To some extent this is due to the need to reﬂect both local interests and the na�onal plan for the marine environment. This is something
Tavish Scott.indd 40
Getting the message across
Sco� iden�ﬁed two key issues; ﬁrst, clarity is urgently needed to establish what trading condi�ons will be as from 1 January. Secondly, salmon producers have a �me-sensi�ve product which needs to be able to travel with as few delays as possible, from Scotland through to the ﬁsh distribu�on hub at Boulogne and onwards to the rest of the con�nent. As Sco� put it: “That product has to keep travelling, and on �me.” Salmon producers have also had to adjust to a very diﬀerent market during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only have processing facili�es needed to change their prac�ces in order to safeguard workers, but demand has shi�ed from hospitality to retail, with salmon prices heavily impacted. Sco� is op�mis�c, however, that once the pandemic comes under control and hotels and restaurants can open normally again, pent-up demand will “explode”. One decision for the SSPO is how to address the industry’s harshest cri�cs – the lobby that is calling not so much for change in the sector as for its aboli�on. Sco� said: “I’m pre�y clear on that one. I’m willing to engage with anyone – group, body or individual – who wants to have a proper discussion about an aspect of the industry that they think needs to be improved; from a star�ng point that they recognise that this industry has a key role to play in the Sco�sh economy. “What I’m not going to spend �me on is people who just want to shut us down. Why should I? There’s nothing you can say to someone like that, that will convince them to change their minds. I’m not going to waste any �me on that that nor, I think, should the industry. “We’re not going to fall out with anybody, but I don’t think there’s any beneﬁt to our organisa�on in spending �me unless we can have a proper discussion, with people who want to have that discussion.” Tavish Sco� is no stranger to poli�cal arguments – nor to discussions with people across the party divide who are willing to work together to achieve common aims. With both a personal connec�on with the communi�es involved in the industry, and familiarity with the workings of government and poli�cs, he could be uniquely well placed to lead the SSPO through these “interes�ng” �mes. FF
Tavish Scott.indd 41
certificated for onshore fish farming lifetime of over 30 years No maintenance no corrosion
GLS Tanks International GmbH Industriestrase 6 A-3860 Heidenreichstein www.glstanks.com firstname.lastname@example.org
BY NICKI HOLMYARD
Holly, ivy and seafood This Christmas, the shellﬁsh industry has more reason than ever to target home consumers
ne of the things people look forward to at Christmas �me is feas�ng, and seafood is an important part of the feast in many households. European tradi�ons, in par�cular, put seafood at front and centre of the menu. In Southern Italy, for example, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a seafood meal known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes (“Festa dei se�e pesci”). A similar feast, which generally features oysters and scallops amongst a host of other species, is eaten in France on the evening of 24 December, as the French celebrate Réveillon (“awakening”). Eastern Europeans major on freshwater ﬁsh during the fes�ve season, with carp taking the place of honour on the tradi�onal Christmas Eve menu in many countries in the region. Seafood sales generally soar in restaurants and retail in December, although this year, with Covid-19 restric�ons in place, the situa�on will be far from normal, par�cularly in the dining-out sector. Fresh and smoked salmon feature heavily on UK fes�ve menus, but farmed shellﬁsh also has a part to play and producers are hoping that sales will rally for the fes�ve season. A major shellﬁsh seller conﬁded that orders are “well down” on last year, from the UK and France, especially for oysters and lobster, and
I didn’t “think we
would sell many oysters locally, but every day I have to put in another hundred
this comes on top of a “very diﬃcult” trading year for the sector. However, Waitrose reports that sales of fresh oysters and mussels have increased by 74 per cent and 25 per cent compared to last year. They have also started selling Bri�sh clams. If seafood usually sells itself at this �me of year as a result of people responding to tradi�on, it tends to need promo�ng for the other 11 months. Pop-up mussel and oyster bars are regulars at fes�vals and events, on seaside quays, and in town centres, and their presence was sadly missed during lockdowns. Many small shellﬁsh producers have turned to online pla�orms, selling via postal-delivery or home delivery this year, but whether this trend will con�nue once normality returns, is diﬃcult to call. Restaurants have also jumped on the bandwagon, with Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant for example delivering three-course meal kits and instruc�ons, one of which includes mussels. My local upmarket chippy recently added a splendid seafood pla�er to its local delivery oﬀering, which will make a change from my usual lobster and chips! Virtual events During lockdown, a new trend for promoting all manner of food has emerged, in the form of tutored tas�ngs and cookery classes via the Internet, on Zoom (and other online pla�orms). Seafood Scotland has held some successful sessions, bringing together seafood producers, chefs, journalists and inﬂuencers, with the aim of impar�ng new skills and knowledge to those able to publicise it through ar�cles or blogs. Par�cipants receive ingredients in advance, join the session at the appointed �me, then follow instruc�ons in real �me to produce the dish of the day, whilst being able
Holly, ivy and seafood
Top: Christmas seafood Above: Judith Vajk of
Caledonian Oysters Left: Feast of the Seven Fishes
to chat to the people who farmed or caught the seafood being used. I joined a virtual oyster and cocktail pairing event hosted by Seafood Scotland, at which World Champion oyster shucker Patrick McMurray, aka Shucker Paddy, demonstrated how to open and eat oysters, live from his kitchen in Toronto. He was joined by Loch Fyne sales director Simon Briggs, who entertained us with informa�on about their provenance and dis�nc�ve ﬂavours. Once virtual guests had mastered the art of opening and slurping down their dozen Loch Fyne oysters, Iain S�rling, director at Arbikie Highland Estate, introduced the selec�on of Sco�sh vodka and gins they had been sent. Arbikie’s mixologist and brand ambassador, Steven Aitken, followed with a step by step guide to crea�ng cocktails that pair with oysters, including a classic Vesper mar�ni, and the event became merrier as the tas�ngs began! “The perfectly paired cocktails and oysters provided a spot of luxurious indulgence to everyone’s evening and were an ideal an�dote to the darker nights that are drawing in. It was a pleasure to see everyone learning new skills and apprecia�ng the high-quality produce they had been sent, and I’d like to thank all who took part. Fingers crossed we can do it again in
person next year,” Clare MacDougall, Head of Trade Marke�ng (UK and North America) at Seafood Scotland said. Building loyalty at farmers’ markets Judith Vajk of Caledonian Oysters has been visi�ng farmers markets for 20 years, and ﬁnds them to be an excellent way to promote her oysters and to develop customer loyalty. She remains a regular at the monthly market in Perth, central Scotland. “It’s just such a natural place for people to try an oyster, with no commitment, and with someone on hand to talk them through it. I also show people how to open oysters, which is something that can seem too diﬃcult and oﬀ-pu�ng, and I have seen many people converted to oyster ea�ng in this way,” she said. Over the years, Judith has gone from selling a couple of dozen oysters at Perth market, to regularly shi�ing 1,000 shells on a Saturday. “In the beginning, I o�en wondered if it was worth the journey, but the trade gradually built up, and it’s great to see so many familiar faces turning up to collect their oysters now,” she said. With markets shut during lockdown, Judith also turned to home deliveries, and son Angus - who also works on the oyster farm – started making a regular weekly run to Edinburgh and back via Perth, dropping oysters on the way. She also set up a stall on the A828 road near the oyster farm, with a large cool box and a built-in honesty box. “I didn’t think we would sell many oysters locally, but every day I have to put in another hundred, and it’s great to think that people are enjoying them and coming back for more. I was a bit concerned about having the honesty box, but we have only had one problem, when several other local boxes were also broken into. I always make sure it is regularly emp�ed, and it hasn’t put me oﬀ,” she said. FF
Infectious salmon anaemia
The threat of ISA has returned and scientists are urgently looking for an answer BY VINCE MCDONAGH
hile global attention has naturally been focused on Covid-19 this year, Norway’s salmon farmers have been worrying about another kind of viral disease – and one that in its own way could be almost as damaging, if it is allowed to get out hand. This particular bug is known as infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) and the number of outbreaks has been climbing to levels worrying both the industry and the government. With at least 23 conﬁrmed cases plus several suspected outbreaks, they are currently running at their highest level for 30 years. It has proved particularly costly for companies like Grieg and others in the salmon farming industry. The industry and Norwegian veterinary organisations are currently carrying out a major investigation into why there have been so many cases, but it may be a while before the results are known. When it attacks, infectious salmon anaemia moves quickly using pathways. Tackling outbreaks involves intensive culling of infected pens which can sometimes mean entire farms. It is mainly found in farmed Atlantic salmon, but it can also affect farmed rainbow trout.
Top: Geir Bornø Above: Fredd Wilsgård Keft: Infec�ous salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) in Salmo salar (Picture: ReaearchGate) Right: Monitoring stress
ISA - Vince.indd 44
The disease has even shown its potential to destroy national salmon farming industries, tragically exempliﬁed by the epidemics in Chile between 2007 and 2009. Failure to act promptly can lead to the disease spreading to neighbouring sites, resulting in severe impact on both the local economy, where ﬁsh farming is sometimes the only employment activity, and on animal welfare. Reports of ISA in Norwegian waters have been coming in steadily since early Spring, with the Finnmark and Troms regions bearing the brunt. Scientists and veterinary ofﬁcials are bafﬂed as to why there has been such a sharp rise in recent months. Hardly a week now seems to go by without at least one new outbreak. Geir Bornø, who is section leader for ﬁsh diagnostics at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, told the national broadcaster NRK recently: “We do not have the necessary knowledge about why the situation is as it is this year.” Fredd Wilsgård, head of Wilsgård Fish Farming, another company which has been affected, told NRK that the ISA issue should be taken up at the highest level in an effort to ﬁnd a solution. He also wants the thinking around the disease to change, with everyone taking a fresh look at alterations to regulations, framework conditions and contingency plans. He added: “This is extremely important because there can only be good solutions if the industry and the administrators are able to work in teams and agree on how we should attack this problem.” He believes that with the right co-operation, it is possible to reach a situation where there are virtually no outbreaks. “If ISA is detected at a ﬁsh farm, the costs can average around NOK 100 million (£8.3 million). That sort of ﬁgure can get you
The other virus
There can only “ be good solu�ons if
the industry and the administrators are able to work in teams and agree on how we should a�ack this problem
stressed,” he added. “It is a complex issue and it is important to raise this to a high level in order to ﬁnd a solution.” Geir Bornø said ISA is a viral disease that attacks cells in the ﬁsh around the blood vessels. This causes the ﬁsh to bleed on the inside and develop anaemia or severe anaemia, eventually leading to death. Some of the measures introduced in the 1990s to ﬁght ISA in ﬁsh are now being used in the battle against Covid-19, Bornø noted. He told NRK: “They introduced a number of hygienic measures, similar to what they are now doing with coronavirus. They started with normal hygienic principles such as keeping distance and treating efﬂuent from the slaughterhouse with disinfectant. Then the number of outbreaks fell sharply. Also some of the same virus tests on salmon back then are now being used in connection with Covid.” Normally, the Norwegian ﬁsh farming industry suffers between six and ten ISA outbreaks a year This year there have been at least 21 conﬁrmed incidents plus several suspected cases. Geir Arne Ystmark, regional director of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, said he expects those ﬁgures to rise further before the end of the year. With Troms and Finnmark the hardest hit regions, Ystmark believes that because some of the outbreaks are fairly close to each other there may be some links to the common origin of the ﬁsh. While the scientists and veterinary experts think it is unlikely that ISA can be totally eliminated – and certainly not within the next year or so – they are working hard to bring down the high number of outbreaks. Like Covid-19, it will demand a united effort. FF
ISA - Vince.indd 45
FACTS ABOUT ISA
Infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) is a serious, contagious viral disease. • The virus belongs to the same family as inﬂuenza viruses, but it does not cause disease in warm-blooded animals, including humans. • ISA outbreaks were ﬁrst detected in 1984. • The peak of ISA infection was reached in the early 1990s, with 80 outbreaks in 1990. Since 1993, there have been an average of 10 outbreaks per year. • As far as is known, only Atlantic salmon can get the disease. But some other salmonids can be infected, without showing actual signs.
BY JIM TREASURER
Recent research sets out a framework for assessing cleaner ﬁsh health
he use of cleaner ﬁsh as a biological control method for controlling sea lice numbers has been the subject of recent adverse comment, despite the advantages of a natural approach to control sea lice. However, several research groups have been working on measuring and improving cleaner ﬁsh welfare and these have fed directly into industry recommenda�ons. Posi�ve news about the welfare of cleaner ﬁsh comes from work in the Faroe Islands by Fiskaaling, in Norway by Noﬁma (Noble and colleagues) and Imsland and co-workers (Imsland et al, 2020) and other companies in Norway, the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Research CSAR Swansea, and Sonia Planellas and the ﬁsh behaviour group at the Ins�tute of Aquaculture, S�rling (SAIC project, “Enhancing the health and welfare of lumpﬁsh”). These explore welfare issues and the development of prac�cal means of measuring welfare, Opera�onal Welfare Indices (OWIs). The SAIC lumpﬁsh report also gave best prac�ce guidance for transport of lumpﬁsh from hatchery to farm, and guidance was distributed to farmers together with charts for assessing body condi�on. Freedom Foods has also insisted on adherence to welfare condi�ons for cleaner ﬁsh. Good prac�ce in farm deployment of cleaner ﬁsh is important to welfare, as set out in the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) “Cleaner
Cleaner Fish.indd 46
Fish Guidelines” (www.sco�shaquaculture. com/media/1470/�f-cleanerﬁsh-guidelines. pdf) and also Rabadan (2018) for wrasse, and consequently in making biological control more eﬀec�ve. Reports have indicated loss of condi�on of cleaner ﬁsh in cages. A study on a large salmon farm in west Scotland showed that does not have to be the case. I examined welfare indices suitable for ﬁve species of wrasse (Treasurer and Feledi, 2014) with a Hungarian sturgeon farmer Tibor Feledi (yes, a sturgeon farmer!) who was based in Ardtoe for a six month European technology placement with his wife Eva. We looked at ﬁve main welfare indices for wrasse and both of us assessed these separately, and agreed an average score for each ﬁsh for ﬁn erosion, ﬁn spli�ng, eye damage and skin lesions; and condi�on factor was also calculated later (Treasurer et al., 2018). These OWIs are
Above: Wrasse Top right: Sucker deformi�es in lumpﬁsh Right: Lumpﬁsh
Helping the helpers
also suitable for lumpﬁsh if sucker condi�on is included. I was able to assess OWIs in ballan wrasse on a large commercial farm with 24m2 cages, the only wrasse species stocked. Ballan wrasse maintained a good condi�on, measured as ﬁn spli�ng, ﬁn erosion, eye condi�on and level of skin abrasion and also condi�on factor. There were no skin lesions, emacia�on or eye damage. Mean ﬁn spli�ng scores from stocking in summer were an average of 0.6, 0.62 in December and then 0.6 in August of the following year and harvest. In this period of 14 months this and other indices were not signiﬁcantly diﬀerent. Although elevated mortality can be a feature of cleaner ﬁsh use, I was able to check the mortality records on the farm. This gave losses of 14% of ﬁsh stocked from May to December. These losses, although associated with a sea lice treatment, were not due to the medicinal treatment itself but the result of the net being li�ed too quickly, leading to over-inﬂa�on of the swimbladder, and protocols were therefore subsequently revised to raise nets gradually. The latest welcome in-depth study of welfare in lumpﬁsh is by the CSAR team which developed a Lumpﬁsh Opera�onal Welfare Score index (LOWSI) based on weighted indices for skin damage, ﬁn damage, eye condi�on, suc�on disc abnormality and rela�ve weight (Rabadan and co-workers, 2020). Ini�ally I thought calcula�on of a combined index and the provision of ﬁve
Cleaner Fish.indd 47
The importance of the indices is “ to ensure that welfare issues do not progressively deteriorate ”
types of sucker abnormality might be too complex, but the clarity of the method is shown on the chart on page 8 of their paper. They helpfully indicate how long this scoring process would take, and say it can be done in two minutes per ﬁsh. If the ﬁsh are being examined live then some of this examina�on should be in water. Welfare assessment of lumpﬁsh is ﬁne at the individual level but what would comprise a reasonable sample size? 20 or 30 ﬁsh or more per cage? Or that number over several cages?
A prepared spreadsheet to enter scores would be an asset for farms to calculate the aggregate scores from the indices. The important consideration at the population level is the frequency of the OWI score, and how many of the lumpfish are in the most severe category of over five points which is termed a “severely compromised fish”. Health managers may view that a high scoring OWI in just one of the five selected indices for lumpfish, and cleaner fish generally, is reason to raise the red flag
Above: Tail fin erosion in lumpfish. (Inset): Lumpfish. right: Wrasse Opposite: Jim sampling water quality
Cleaner Fish.indd 48
and carry out further investigations and initiate remedial action. An aggregated score is used for the dorsal, caudal, anal and pectoral fins in the LOWSI scale, although erosion of the tail is the most commonly damaged fin (in 47% of lumpfish) (Rabadan, 2020). Tail erosion is mainly a feature of hatchery production and not seawater farm deployment, and often the fin damage may have healed by the time of transport to the salmon farm although the fin remains eroded. The involvement of bacterial infection in this fin damage should also be examined. Generally fin erosion is more severe in lumpfish of less than 1g but in the fin damage was reported in lumpfish to 40g (Sonia Planellas, Personal communication). This was reduced when feed was offered at frequent intervals and the feeding regime was enhanced by using hand feed and also a feeder, which is standard practice in the lumpfish hatchery. A large size differentiation in the hatchery or delayed size grade is a cause of excessive fin nipping. Little has been said about territoriality and hierarchies in lumpfish, or the consequences of aggression and dominance on fin damage, and whether this leads to “failed fish” syndrome as in other species such as cod. Some small lumpfish do not appear to accept feed, but a step up in feed pellet sizes may contribute. Failed fish syndrome in cod has been
Helping the helpers linked to dominance hierarchy, even when feed is abundant. Examina�on of the poten�al for this in lumpﬁsh in the hatchery would be useful, as would be publica�on of the beneﬁcial eﬀects of providing environmental enrichment in tanks on aggression and ﬁn damage, but also growth and welfare. Condi�on of the ventral sucker in lumpﬁsh in the LOWSI is listed as a welfare index but, equally, this is a reﬂec�on of a quality index. There is therefore a need to assess how many of the welfare issues in lumpﬁsh are due to poor ﬁsh “quality” and to insuﬃcient quality assessment and grading. For example, ﬁsh with sucker abnormali�es should be diﬀeren�ated on grading, and I am sure many are checked in the hatchery. Therefore theore�cally, on seawater sites, there should not be a great issue with sucker, vertebral or any other conspicuous abnormality. Sucker deformity could result from issues with diet, gene�cs or some other cause and remains to be fully inves�gated. Although not men�oned speciﬁcally by Rabadan et al. (2018) the OWIs for broodstock lumpﬁsh diﬀer in occurrence from juvenile ﬁsh. Tail ﬁn erosion was shown to be negligible, but skin lesions and cataracts were present in some broodﬁsh. Remedial ac�ons taken included reducing the stocking density and providing shade cover in outside tanks (Treasurer et al, 2018). The importance of the indices is to ensure that welfare issues do not progressively deteriorate in the hatchery and can be avoided. The priority is also in monitoring that lumpﬁsh condi�on and welfare do not decline a�er stocking in seawater pens, and welfare indices can be compared with the baseline on receipt of ﬁsh or with indices in the months a�er stocking. Although the opera�onal welfare indices can give warning of reduc�on in welfare status, this should be followed up to inves�gate the issues that cause poor indices and low body weight rela�ve to length. More on cleaner ﬁsh welfare will be presented in a wider cer�ﬁcated cleaner ﬁsh course, cer�ﬁcated online CPD course which will be available shortly for farm and health staﬀ. Jim Treasurer is a course designer for FAI Farms’. FF
Cleaner Fish.indd 49
REFERENCES Imsland, AK, Reynolds, P, Lorentzen, M, Eilertsen, RA, Micallef, G and Tvenning, R (2020). Improving survival and health of lumpﬁsh (Cyclopterus lumpus L) by the use of feed blocks and opera�onal welfare indicators (OWIs) in commercial Atlan�c salmon cages. Aquaculture 735476.
indicated loss of condi�on of cleaner ﬁsh in cages
Rabadan, C G (2018). Improving the use of wrasse (Labridae) stocked in commercial sea cages with Atlan�c salmon (Salmo salar) for sea lice control: key features for a successful deployment, pp 54-68. In: Cleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applica�ons, pp 54-68. 5m Publica�ons, Sheﬃeld. Rabadan, CG, Spreadbury, C, Consuegra, S and Garcia de Leaniz, C (2020). Development, valida�on and tes�ng of an Opera�onal Welfare Score Index for farmed lumpﬁsh Cyclopterus lumpus L. Aquaculture 531, h�ps:/doi. org?10.1016/j.aquaculture.2020.735777 Treasurer, J and Feledi, T (2014). The physical condi�on and welfare of ﬁve species of wildcaught wrasse stocked under aquaculture condi�ons and when stocked in Atlan�c salmon, Salmo salar, produc�on cages. J World Aquacult. Soc. 45, 213-219. Treasurer, J, Noble, C, Puvanendran, V, Planellas, S and Iversen, M (2018). Cleaner ﬁsh welfare. pp. 281-312. In: Cleaner Fish Biology and Aquaculture Applica�ons, 5m Publica�ons, Sheﬃeld.
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Fish F armer
A PASSION FOR SALMON
SSPO Chair Atholl Dunc
THE THREE HORSEMEN
Brexit deja vu
THE OMEGA FACTOR Sandy Neil
PRESENT AND FUTURE SEAFOOD Nicki Holmyard
ff09 Cover.indd 1 14/09/2020 14:49:51
The Scottish Salmon Company – Advertorial
A day in the life of a Scottish salmon farmer Dougie Macleod, Area Manager for The Scottish Salmon Company (Skye and Mainland) Describe a normal day in your job I oversee a team of Marine Site Managers across Skye and the mainland. It is our responsibility to care for our ﬁsh when they are in our seawater lochs, managing their feed and ensuring they are healthy. What skills/qualiﬁcations are relevant to a marine role? It is important to have an interest in aquaculture and ﬁsh welfare, and to enjoy working as part of a team. Numeric and IT skills are useful, and an ability to work weekends and ﬂexible hours when needed. What has been your career path to your current role? I started at SSC in 2003 as a Harvest Operative with no experience in salmon farming. Over the years I have progressed steadily through various roles and I’m now Area Manager. If you are willing to work hard there are lots of opportunities within SSC. What are the beneﬁts of working in aquaculture? One of the main beneﬁts is working in some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. The freedom of being out on the water in magniﬁcent surroundings is special - not many people have that luxury. At SSC we are proud to be part of the rural areas in which we live and work. We are engaged with our local communities and are involved in many community events, such as the Shieldaig Regatta and SSC’s Isle of Skye Half Marathon. We have a Community Fund where staff can nominate local causes that they are passionate about for funding and to date we’ve supported over 80 of these. We offer a relocation allowance to new employees and can also cover household moving costs, the storage of furniture and travel expenses. In some cases, we can offer a temporary rent allowance and we also have our own accommodation at some sites which is available for new employees. Above: Dougie Macleod,
Why would you recommend a career in aquaculture? Area Manager for Skye It is incredibly rewarding! It’s a privilege to work with the team, at the and Mainland at SSC heart of salmon production. I enjoy being part of an industry that is so important to Scotland’s economy and heritage. If you are passionate about working with animals and being outdoors, then I encourage you to think about a career in aquaculture. What development opportunities are available at The Scottish Salmon Company? Aquaculture has a variety of jobs, with many roles requiring no previous experience due to the training programmes available. We have an industry leading training framework and offer a Modern Apprenticeship programme. There are numerous training courses and many opportunities to learn new skills such as boat handling, ﬁreﬁghting, sea survival and ﬁrst aid. FF
Scottish Salmon Co - PED.indd 51
Current Opportunities: Applecross & Appleburn Hatcheries, Kishorn, Strathcarron, Ross-shire: • Freshwater Site Manager • Senior Freshwater Operative • Freshwater Operatives Loch Torridon Marine Sites, Kenmore, By Sheildaig, Ross-shire: • Senior Marine Operative • Marine Operatives If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please send your CV and a cover letter to email@example.com
Pharmaq – Advertorial
A robust diagnosis Veterinary specialist Chris Matthews and Pharmaq’s Nils Arne Gronlie talk about ﬁsh health a Masters in Aqua�c Vet Studies at S�rling. Ini�ally I spent a few very useful years working with several founders of Fish Vet Group – Tony Wall, Pete Southgate and Dave Cox. FF: What have been the main changes in aquaculture veterinary care that you have seen so far in your career? CM: There’s a much greater focus on preventa�ve health. Between our own prac�ce vets and many talented colleagues working in produc�on companies, work is focused on preventa�ve strategies, star�ng with training site staﬀ to recognise health and welfare issues. Fish health opera�ves on Sco�sh farms are now far more highly skilled than ten years ago. Our understanding of disease dynamics has also greatly improved. Not so long ago, our ability to detect poten�al ﬁsh pathogens using qPCR had signiﬁcantly outpaced our ability to understand the signiﬁcance of such results. This is less true today; for instance longitudinal gill health monitoring using qPCR for Neoparamoeba perurans (AGD), has, over �me, generated enough data to help op�mise the deployment of management interven�ons such as freshwater bathing. This has reduced the incidence of losses due to primary AGD in Scotland.
ish Farmer magazine caught up with Chris Ma�hews, Opera�ons Director of the Fish Vet Group which was recently acquired by the Norwegian diagnos�cs company PHARMAQ Analy�q, whose General Manager, Nils Arne Gronlie also shares his thoughts.
FF: Chris how long have you been with the Fish Vet Group and what is your role there? Chris Ma�hews (CM): I joined Fish Vet Group in 2011, having spent six years in terrestrial animal vet prac�ce in Inverness, with a spell in Australia followed by
Pharmaq Ltd - PED.indd 52
Above: qPCR barcode tube containing a gill �ssue sample for analysis with SmoltVision Opposite - from top: Chris Ma�hews; Nils Arne Gronlie
FF: Diagnos�cs play a cri�cal role in ﬁsh health, perhaps even more so than in say, companion animal medicine. Can you describe some of the key developments over the past decade as well as perhaps what the future has in store? CM: The headline improvement has been the advent of digital pathology and I am proud that FVG were very early adopters of this eight years ago. Teams of histopathologists working remotely from one another – even in diﬀerent con�nents – can quickly share and consult on cases without the need to post glass slides. High quality results are generated more quickly and the use of cu�ng-edge image analysis can also be deployed in certain cases. Whilst ul�mately, ar�ﬁcial intelligence will almost certainly have some applica�on, perhaps in screening large volumes of material, I do not see it replacing histopathologists at any �me in the near future! Non-lethal swab sampling for qPCR in gill health monitoring has also been a recent improvement and it is likely that non-lethal sampling of mucus, scales, blood and even water samples will emerge in the future. The hunt for biomarkers in such
A robust diagnosis samples which might be diagnos�c proxies for speciﬁc disease, general health or stress is ongoing. Some are described but have mostly failed to ﬁnd speciﬁc, prac�cal applica�on on farms, but this will change in �me. Finally I suggest that, in the next decade, metagenomic sequencing will be a regular diagnos�c tool. The skin, gill and gut microbiome at diﬀerent life stages may well have relevance to ﬁsh health outcomes in the face of disease.
this, farmers, health teams and animal health companies must cooperate to develop and enhance vaccines for exis�ng and emergent bacterial diseases. FF: Turning now to Nils Arne, what excites you most about the new �e-up? NA: Our customers have ambi�ous sustainability goals. They want to foster sustainable ﬁsh farming prac�ces that provide safe, aﬀordable nutri�on for a growing popula�on while increasing animal welfare and ensuring a posi�ve social impact. I believe the acquisi�on of FVG will help us strengthen that goal. What also excites me is the opportunity to build upon an established strong base, to create an even be�er service oﬀering for Sco�sh aquaculture. I believe the ﬁsh farming community will see the new partnership as a posi�ve, bringing greater knowledge and value to their strategic thinking and day to day management.
FF: The Sco�sh industry has always held the service oﬀering from FVG in high regard. Are you able to provide assurances that this will con�nue and perhaps what addi�onal beneﬁts might be on oﬀer following the merger? CM: Firstly, we will con�nue to oﬀer all our exis�ng services whilst developing each of our core areas of diagnos�cs, consultancy and environmental services. For our clients, the key beneﬁt is that the merger brings us together with a world class technical and R&D team at Pharmaq Analy�q, alongside the wider resources of Zoe�s. I am encouraged that the Pharmaq Analy�q team share a similar vision of a holis�c, evidence-based approach to aquaculture health – and very much an area of, now joint, focus between Inverness and Bergen. An immediate beneﬁt for our clients is that we can now oﬀer a more comprehensive suite of qPCR assays as well as Pharmaq Analy�q’s leading smol�ﬁca�on assay, SmoltVision. Beyond that, there are a number of exci�ng diagnos�c products in the pipeline which we look forward to bringing to Scotland next year. FF: From your close interac�ons with industry can you share some insight into what you consider to be the most important current and emerging ﬁsh health issues being faced just now? CM: My principal hope is that we can further improve sea lice control through reducing the need to handle ﬁsh to treat them, by incremental gains in gene�c improvement and perhaps even a sea lice vaccine. In the past two years, the generalist sea louse Caligus elongatus has occasionally necessitated treatments on a few farms in the summer. Whilst hitherto rela�vely uncommon, it is possible this may be a trend. In gill health, I think we now recognize that gela�nous zooplankton or hydrozoans have been understated as a primary cause of autumnal gill disease. The ques�ons now are how does oceanic change inﬂuence their frequency, and how can we respond? Whilst we can do li�le to prevent ﬁsh being exposed to zooplankton, it may, in the future be possible to avoid the cascade of secondary pathology which drives mortality on farms long a�er the inci�ng zooplankton species has gone. Finally, both Norway and Scotland have seen outbreaks of Pasteurellosis in recent years. It is vital that bacterial diseases of Atlan�c salmon in seawater do not become more prevalent. Presently the use of an�microbials in farmed salmon in these countries is minimal and rare. To maintain
Pharmaq Ltd - PED.indd 53
FF: Are there any diﬀerences in approach to veterinary aqua�c diagnos�cs in Norway compared to Scotland, and if so do you see scope for an exchange of ideas here? NA: Whilst I think the basics are the same, we do see diﬀerences. For example, histopathology is widely used in Scotland as a primary diagnos�c tool but less so in Norway, where PCR is more dominant. This has led us to start a cross-geography conversa�on to see what we can learn from these diﬀering views, and how our customers may beneﬁt from them. FF: What changes, if any, do you think that ﬁsh health managers in Scotland might see now that FVG and PHARMAQ Analy�q are one? NA: FVG will con�nue to provide its unique oﬀering of combined consultancy and diagnos�cs, together with environmental services, delivered in the friendly, collabora�ve way to which our clients are accustomed. As a proud partnership we are excited to move forwards together with the Sco�sh industry as we invest in both facili�es and new services. FF
For our clients, the key beneﬁt is that the merger brings us together with a world class technical and R&D team
Expertise delivered Expertese delivered by professionals - to professionals Pharmaq Analytiq provides analysis and advisory services to veterinarians and fish health managers. In addition to histology and bacteriology, we use molecular techniques to provide managers with quantitative health and physiological assessments of their stocks relating to both a wide range of pathogens, as well as for salmonids readiness for transfer to seawater. Our services are fully accredited. For further information please visit www.pharmaq-analytiq.com.
Fish Vet Group, (+44) 01463 717774, firstname.lastname@example.org Pharmaq Analytiq, (+47) 23 29 86 68, email@example.com
The gentle touch
Technology is being applied to minimise the impact of ﬁsh handling BY ROBERT OUTRAM
ish are happiest when left alone. Handling can cause stress, affecting ﬁsh welfare, growth and even the quality and taste of the ﬁnal product. The “Friend of the Sea” sustainability certiﬁcation schedule for Atlantic salmon says: “Live ﬁsh must only be removed from water and handled when absolutely necessary. The maximum emersion time without anaesthesia is 15 seconds.” Unfortunately, handling is sometimes necessary, whether simply to move the ﬁsh from one place to another, for grading by size or for treatment such as delousing. Looking for ways to do this in a less invasive way has led to some creative engineering solutions. Smir’s Hydrolicer system is a mechanical, non-pharmaceutical method for removing sea lice from farmed ﬁsh, without chemicals are used. The process is based on a one-line delousing system that accommodates high capacities. One challenge for the company, however, was how to get the ﬁsh from the pen, rapidly through the process and back. Alan McFadyen, Smir’s representative in Scotland says: “For delousing you have to pump the
ﬁsh out of the pen. The standard method would be a ﬁsh pump impeller, which didn’t really work for us. “We developed the new hydroﬂow pump because we couldn’t ﬁnd anything better on the market.” The hydroﬂow pump is an ejector-based alternative to typical impeller or vacuum pumps. It has no moving parts, creating a smoother journey for the ﬁsh. Smir is now ﬁnding that running three pipes side by side into the pen works well – as McFadyen puts it: “It’s about reducing the force on the ﬁsh.” There are also alternative ways to approach grading by size. FischTeknik International, based in Germany, uses a belt-based grading system. The company says: “This way of sorting ﬁsh is gentle for the animal and has an unrivalled precision. In many cases ﬁsh sorting machines with rollers are used which are faster, but damage the mucus of the ﬁsh and the scales and are way more imprecise.” Another solution is to use “passive grading”, where the ﬁsh effectively sort themselves. Flexi-Panel, part of the AKVA Group, offers a patented passive-grading device for size-grading live ﬁsh in the water. “Flexi-Panel’s lightweight ﬂexible construction – and its unique design – allow for quick, accurate and stress free grading,” the company says. The principle of “passive grading” is not new, but Flexi-Panel overcomes the problems associated with rigid grading grids which are heavy, damaging to ﬁsh and restrictive in terms of “grading area”. Flexi-Panel’s lightweight, ﬂexible construction allows very large areas to be easily and safely handled, allowing for quick and stress-free grading of large tonnages of ﬁsh. Fish handling and the need to minimise stress is also a consideration in the design of well boats. Simpler, safer handling is now possible, say the Norwegian developers of a new system for transferring ﬁsh, and the system is being installed in what will be the world’s largest wellboat. Cﬂow’s new system, Flowline, uses a stronger, more durable type of plastic than that normally used in ﬁsh handling, and it also makes use of a four-outlet valve instead of the typical three-way valve. The system is being built into the wellboat Gåsø Høvding, which is under construction at the Seﬁne Shipyard in Turkey, commissioned by Frøy Rederi. Tor Andre Rønning, Cﬂow senior engineer, explained that the philosophy behind Flowline was based on prioritising the main functions of the ﬁsh handling system: reducing bends, valves, lifting height and piping to a minimum.
Unnecessary distress needs to be avoided for both welfare and commercial reasons
Fish Handling - Intro.indd 54
The gentle touch
Above: The Hendrix Gene�cs facility Left: Cﬂow’s system being inspected
He said: “The current modern ﬁsh handling systems, both on land and at sea, have strict requirements for ﬂexibility and options. Cﬂow’s new Flowline concept naturally meets both these requirements and those for gentleness.” Reducing stress is also a consideration even when ﬁsh are being slaughtered. Here too, unnecessary distress needs to be avoided for both welfare and commercial reasons – stressed ﬁsh produce cortisol, which affects texture and ﬂavour. Technology business Ace Aquatec was tasked with ﬁnding an alternative to traditional slaughter techniques, and came up with a process that combines electrical stunning with a water-based slicing system, as an alternative to metal blades. The electric stunner is calibrated to deliver the right charge to 100 per cent of the ﬁsh and, unlike mechanical stunning methods, it does not need to be reset when dealing with larger or smaller ﬁsh. As Nathan Pyne-Carter, CEO of Ace Aquatec explained: “The idea is to have an end to end process in one single, contained system.” The stunner has now been in use for salmonids and seabass for around a year and a half, and is now also being used by Hendrix Genetics to stun and slaughter excess smolts, for use in pet food. The solutions may be varied but the issue is the same – how to manage the stock without causing undue stress. Fortunately, there are now inventive solutions available for every stage of the process. FF
Fish Handling - Intro.indd 55
Breeding and Genetics
Science is helping breeders to perfect their stock, but how far should they be allowed to go?
BY ROBERT OUTRAM
mproving the genetic stock of terrestrial farm animals is something that humans have been doing for thousands of years. For fish, that process has only taken place over just a few decades, but already it has had an impact. Farmed fish grow much faster and they have a recognisable genetic signature that marks them out from their wild cousins. The technology has progressed rapidly. Our understanding of genetics now informs the process of breeding, and the state of the art has progressed a long way. Genetics specialists in aquaculture can operate as breeders – supplying eggs or young fish to producers – or consultants providing expert services, or both. Xelect, based in St Andrews, Scotland started out as a spinout from the academic world and now provides a range of specialist services. Xelect uses amplicon sequencing, a technique for genotyping that allows the analysis of genetic variation in specific genomic regions. using
Breeding & Genetics - Intro.indd 56
the company’s proprietorial software. The team’s expertise includes salmon (Atlantic and chinook), sea bass, barramundi, Tiger prawns, oysters, turbot, tilapia and a range of other species. Their customers are all around the world, and can opt for one of three levels of service: a virtual in-house genetics department (“Elite”); genotyping and genetic services on demand (“Direct”); and quick access to to essential services like triploidy testing (to check that eggs have been correctly processed to create sterile individuals), sex determination and stock control (“Express”). For a producer looking for help with a
Photo: Benchmark Gene�cs
breeding plan, Xelect will use provided �ssue samples and trait data, extrac�ng the gene�c data and analysing it to create a breeding plan to reinforcing the best traits, while maintaining diversity and keeping inbreeding low. The aim is to enhance natural selec�on, not to replace it. Professor Ian Johnston, Xelect’s CEO, stressed: “Everything we do is natural selec�on – not gene edi�ng.” Xelect has a close rela�onship with the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Ins�tute of Animal Breeding, and it is also a par�cipant in Aqua-FAANG, a European project that aims to improve the understanding the genome func�on in the six most important European farmed ﬁsh species. Xelect also provides “Bio-Audit”, a biological due diligence service to help assess the quality of a farmer’s stock. The company is also working on developing low-cost genome selec�on, which can predict how much each parent is likely to contribute to the gene�c makeup of their oﬀspring. Another project under way involves a scanner, rugged enough to operate in oﬀshore farms, to assess a ﬁsh’s ﬁllet yield by quan�fying body shape. That would make it possible to assess ﬁllet yield without actually slaughtering
Breeding & Genetics - Intro.indd 57
the ﬁsh. Since weight alone doesn’t tell you what propor�on the ﬁllet will be – that can vary in salmon by as much as 12% - this will be very useful in breeding stock that can convert feed to ﬁllets in the most eﬃcient way. The project is supported by a grant from the Sco�sh Government and collabora�on with Mowi. Danish company Aquasearch Ova, in contrast, uses its gene�c exper�se primarily to supply good quality, disease-free trout eggs and young ﬁsh. Its self-proclaimed mission is “…to provide superior, customized gene�c material on a compe��ve basis for successful and prosperous trout produc�on worldwide based on supply of superior gene�cs through trout eggs.” The company produces a number of species including rainbow trout eggs (Oncorhynchus mykiss); Arc�c char (Salvelinus alpinus); and brown trout (Salmo Trutta). Its focus is using gene�c exper�se to produce pan-sized trout with good traits – such as fast growth rate and a low feed conversion rate – and high egg quality. For a breeder, however, gene�cs is only half the story. Just as important is biosecurity, to ensure that the stock is disease-free. Aquasearch comes under the health surveillance system of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administra�on (DVFA) of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and its freshwater site is carefully protected. Also combining egg produc�on with advanced gene�cs and genomics is Benchmark Gene�cs, one of the biggest players in this ﬁeld. Bench-
It’s about “choosing the right parents, pu�ng them together and con�nuing the cycle
Breeding and Genetics
mark began in animal gene�cs, and had a fairly diversiﬁed range of interests, but more recently it has been focusing on aquaculture. The company has a large market share in Atlan�c salmon and a growing share in shrimp and �lapia, as well as providing gene�c-related services for other species. As Dr Alan Tinch, technical services director, Benchmark Gene�cs explained: “We use a pedigree structure and high-powered, sta�s�cal analysis to select fast-growing, healthier ﬁsh. We use informa�on about the gene�c sequence – genotyping – to predict which individuals will perform best – for example, in resistance to speciﬁc diseases.” Benchmark uses between 50,000 and 60,000 gene�c markers to analyse “diﬃcult” traits such as disease resistance, that are hard to measure in individual animals. The cycle of selec�on, breeding and evalua�on means that it’s possible to keep improving traits with every genera�on. Tinch says: “We use a broad approach. It’s not just about selec�ng for one characteris�c, like growth. You need a balanced set of characteris�cs, with a pedigree structure that works. So, for example, we also look at mortality rates, risk of deformity and so on. We run tests to assess individual families. Our team collaborates to collect real world data; you can’t do it only from behind a desk!” This approach essen�ally speeds up and directs the process of natural selec�on, but the technology exists to do much more than that. It is possible to intervene directly in an animal’s gene�c make-up and manipulate it. Possible, that is, but not – in Europe – lawful. The US is another story, however. GMO (gene�cally modiﬁed organisms) are already rela�vely common for plants like soya, and one company is applying the GMO approach to farmed salmon. AquaBounty Technologies plans to farm its “AquAdvantage” Atlan�c salmon commercially in Kentucky, having developed a strain modiﬁed for fast growth in its hatchery on Prince Edward Island, Canada. AquaBounty claims its salmon can grow twice as fast as conven�onally farmed Atlan�c salmon, reaching adult size in 18 months as compared to 30 months. The product also requires 25 per cent less feed to grow to the size of wild salmon, and could have a carbon footprint of up to 25 �mes less, the company has said. The process of approval has been a long one and it is not over yet. In 2019 the US Food and Drug Administra�on ﬁnally decided that the rules preven�ng GM organisms from being imported into the country could be waived. In November, however, a court in California ordered the FDA to re-examine the risks of allowing gene�cally modiﬁed salmon to be grown in the US.
Breeding & Genetics - Intro.indd 58
Photo: Benchmark Gene�cs
AquaBounty has since started harves�ng conven�onal – that is, non-GM salmon – in Indiana in order to test its RAS (recircula�ng aquaculture system) technology. The GM ﬁsh are now planned to be grown in Kentucky once the system is rolled out at scale. Although GMO salmon has not been banned in the US, some retailers – for example Costco – have said they would not stock it. Research carried out for AquaBounty, however, suggests that 70% of US consumers would eat GMO salmon. ARK Invest, a New York-based investment ﬁrm focused solely on “disrup�ve innova�ons,” does not seem to be worried. It bought a 10.21 percent stake in AquaBounty technologies last month. Will we see GMO ﬁsh in Europe, one day? Benchmark’s Alan Tinch said: “The technology
Photo: Benchmark Gene�cs
to take a precau�onary approach
Breeding & Genetics - Intro.indd 59
poin�ng out that with tradi�onal gene�c approaches care is taken to ensure that selec�on for one trait does not produce adverse eﬀects on another: “With gene edi�ng there is always the possibility of non-target eﬀects which need to be thoroughly inves�gated.” So far, European regulators appear to believe we should leave well alone, but is there a case for change? As Alan Tinch put it: “Imagine if we did not already have vaccina�on, and then we discovered it and planned to take to the market, would we go through the same precau�ous analy�c process we are applying to gene edi�ng? We should be asking, how can we use this technology as a force for good?”’. FF
New revolutionary products now available
Rainbow trout eggs Genetic marker assisted breeding and commercial egg production Together with our research partners AquaSearch has recently identified genetic markers related to the following traits in rainbow trout: • No second winter maturation • Improved resistance against: - Vibriosis - Furunculosis - White spot disease and - Rainbow trout fry syndrome Produced on request for customized improvement of already superior genetics.
Regulators “are likely
for gene edi�ng will probably be ready to be used before the regulatory framework is ready. There are already salmon and �lapia alive now that have had genes edited to demonstrate the technology. But will consumers eat GMO ﬁsh? And when will there be a regulatory regime that’s workable?” He noted that, for AquaBounty, the regulatory process has taken so long that its product relies on technology – transgenics, where a desired gene is inserted into the genome – that has since been superseded by a more subtle “gene edi�ng” approach. Even so, regulators and consumers in Europe are wary. It would be cri�cal that gene-modiﬁed ﬁsh are prevented from escaping and breeding with their wild counterparts. They would almost certainly need to be grown in land-based farms to prevent this, and probably would need to be sterile too. AquaBounty is required to do both of these things with their GMO salmon in the US. If regulators were prepared to take a more ﬂexible view, however, there are less controversial alterna�ves to AquaBounty’s approach. Tinch said: “One thing you could do is to use naturally occurring gene�c changes – such as those that confer disease resistance – and introduce them more widely, more precisely. That would be similar to the normal breeding process, but with an addi�onal step.” Ian Johnston agrees: “Gene edi�ng is a powerful research tool for valida�ng func�onal gene�c varia�ons. At its simplest you could ﬁx gene�c varia�ons that have occurred naturally with poten�ally substan�al beneﬁts for animal welfare, for example, by strengthening resistance to certain diseases that are controlled by just a few genes. However, the adop�on of such technologies in aquaculture is a ma�er for society at large and regulators are likely to take a precau�onary approach balancing the beneﬁts against any perceived risks”.” Johnston’s colleague, Dr Tom Ashton – Xelect’s opera�ons director – concurred
40 20 0
V. anguillarum challenge trial with significantly reduced morbidity in genetic homocygotes as well as heterocygotes.
T. +45 5544 2211 . firstname.lastname@example.org . www.aquasearch.dk
Transport & logistics
Keeping the wheels turning
Logistics businesses are helping their customers through uncertain times BY ROBERT OUTRAM
s this issue goes to press, haulage firms and their customers are waiting to see what the outcome of the UK’s fractious trade talks with the European Union will be. Whatever is or is not agreed, however, as from 1 January big changes will be coming in, affecting anyone importing or exporting to and from continental Europe. It is very likely that even a no-tariff trade deal will still involve considerably more paperwork than under the current transition period. For seafood exporters, one issue is the requirement for Export Health Certificates (EHCs). Up until now, the certificates have not been required for UK exporters because of free movement of goods within the EU. If EHCs are introduced, the cost for Scottish farmed salmon, which is the UK’s biggest food export, will be between £1.3 million and £8.7 million per year, depending on the amount charged by councils for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per lorry load. It is expected that an extra 50,000 to 100,000 EHCs would need to be processed every year, each one of which has to be signed by either an environmental health officer or a vet. Based on pre-pandemic figures, it is estimated that 300 orders of Scottish salmon are sent to Europe each day from DFDS alone, in about
Transport & logistics - Intro.indd 60
35 lorry loads. The annual £8.7 million figure is based on 300 orders per day, each one needing an EHC at a cost of £80 per certificate. The £1.3 million figure is based on 300 orders a day but with each EHC costing £12 per order – if only one certificate per lorry load is demanded. The cost of an EHC varies from council to council, from £15 to £92. Fortunately, transport and logistics professionals have already put a lot of effort into ensuring they are as ready as they can be, given the uncertainty that exists. DFDS, which runs the important hub at Larkhall, offers customers a “Brexit readiness check” to find out if they are all set for the new UK-EU relationship. The company can also act as a customs broker. Laurence O’Toole is managing director with O’Toole Transport, which is headquartered in the Republic of Ireland – still in the EU – but
Below: DFDS in action Right: Northwards trucks
Keeping the wheels turning
There will be an express lane between Calais, the main port of entry, and Boulogne. Health cer�ﬁcates can be provided at O’Toole’s hub at Bellshill (and at other hubs in Scotland run by other operators). O’Toole says: “We’ll have an environmental health oﬃcer or vet onsite to cer�fy seafood produce at Bellshill. Then an environmental health oﬃcer at Boulogne will cer�fy goods before they can be distributed. “Also, all of our UK trucks will need ECMT interna�onal road haulage permits. [required to drive through the EU and Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland].” O’Toole points out: “As of now, our trucks leave Bellshill at 6pm and they are in Boulogne by 6am. There is no interac�on required with port authori�es at Folkestone or Calais. From January, we have no sight of how long delays might be, or how many trucks will need to be inspected – will it be all of them or a sample? “We are hoping that as part of the trade deal, if it is agreed, that the transi�on period will be extended by another six months from 1 January.” Meanwhile, the uncertainty over 1 January has not prevented freight and haulage company Northwards from inves�ng. It has just moved to a new depot in Inverness which will more than double its warehouse space, increase its ﬂeet, and create new jobs in the city. Regional manager, Michael Foubister, commented: “The new premises at Harbour Road will give us much greater capacity – from the 300 square metres of our old premises at Carsegate Road, we will now enjoy 800 square metres in our new loca�on. As well as more than doubling our warehouse space, we are upda�ng the facili�es for our staﬀ and increasing deliveries into the depot.” Northwards, which operates a twice daily service from Inverness to Caithness and Orkney, also has depots in Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Scrabster and Glasgow. FF
also runs routes between the UK and con�nental Europe, working with supermarkets, food manufacturers, growers and importers. He said: “We have a full customs team in place for import/export declara�ons, which will be necessary whether or not there is a trade deal. Up to now we have only had to do this for Switzerland.” For seafood exports from Scotland, O’Toole explained, the border control will eﬀec�vely be at Boulogne, the key ﬁsh market for UK exports.
of how long delays might be, or how many trucks will need to be inspected
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Transport & logistics - Intro.indd 61
Products and services
What’s NEW Monthly update on industry innovations and solutions from around the world Maturation
Two distinct QTLs associated with Two distinct QTLs associated with 2. winter maturation. 2. winter maturation.
Heritability estimate: 0.48! Heritability estimate: 0.48!
Commercial launch of marker-assisted genetically improved rainbow trout eggs RAINBOW trout is produced under highly diverse environmental conditions, and harvested in many different sizes with a wide array of tissue pigment levels, ranging from white-fleshed pan-size trout produced in 6-10 oC fresh water to large 4 kg-plus steelhead trout in 18-20oC seawater! Such variation in conditions and production cycle, obviously calls for different genetics, and no single breeding line would serve all. AquaSearch is now addressing the consequence of this and expanding its already comprehensive product program with the option to have individual batches of eggs custom produced by marker-assisted selection and improved genetics-related specific disease resistance, age of maturation and more. www.aquasearch.dk NEW WATER DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGY AQUATURU A/S is a Danish technology company which has developed groundbreaking, innovative and environmentally friendly water treatment solutions that can help secure sustainable landbased fish farming. The company has introduced a new and revolutionary method to reduce bacteria, viruses, parasites and algae in freshwater fish farming facilities, challenging the traditional solutions used for disinfection of process water in the aquaculture industry. It even works in brown water. The company is ready to supply units from Q2 2021, and is looking for distributors and pre-IPO investors for its upcoming 2021 IPO. Watch the promotion video at: www.aquaturu.com Contact: email@example.com
What's New - Dec 20.indd 62
Brexit ready O’TOOLE Transport in Bellshill has become an approved hub for creating export health certificates, and we can offer this service to any Scottish seafood company that will require the service in January. We recently became BRC AA approved and have grown our management team to help us with the creation of customs export declarations in Scotland and import declarations in France. We can now offer the complete package to our clients: customs, health certificates and, most of all, our unrivalled logistics service, delivered by our own new fleet. www.otooletransport.ie
Reach out to the entire world with your new innovations on the What’s New page for only £220 (+vat)
Boris Nets and Fibras Industriales working together BORIS Nets – one of the UK’s oldest aquaculture net supply companies – and Fibras Industriales SA (FISA) a leading volume supplier in the Americas are happy to confirm they have formed a partnership to serve the UK and Irish markets. John Howard, Managing Director at Boris Nets, said: “The relationship brings together the joint experience of two well established manufacturing companies with many years in aquaculture throughout the world’s fish farming markets, and allows us to take advantage of volume production and range to suit some of today’s large requirements whilst giving me the ability to meet the more immediate requirements of local markets in the UK and Ireland. “We are currently working exclusively with FISA’s premium brand of “Supra® Advanced Fibers HDPE, a knotted braided net with or without a stainless steel core ideal for seal protection. This product has performed exceptionally well and repeat orders have already been gained. We are also working on a large project for full cages where we will be able to meet the strict delivery dates required.” John Howard added: “I hate it when delivery dates are not met and I will never accept an order where I know I cannot meet it.“ www.borisnet.co.uk T: 01253 874891
Get Accurate, Cost-Effective DO Monitoring with RDO Blue IN-SITU has introduced RDO Blue, the latest innovation in Optical Rugged Dissolved Oxygen technology, specifically designed for the aquaculture industry. RDO Blue uses patented technology, an EPA-approved dissolved oxygen measurement method ideal for measuring DO and temperature in even the harshest environments. Suitable for handheld use or long-term deployment in fresh water or saltwater, this low-maintenance and cost-effective probe requires no calibration or conditioning prior to deployment. The replaceable RDO Smart Sensor Cap stores calibration coefficients for error-free setup. Also, a Modbus/RS485 communication protocol supports easy integration with PLC systems and telemetry. www.in-situ.com
Industry DIARY The latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses MARCH 21
LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN AQUACULTURE 2021 (VIRTUAL EVENT)
AQUACULTURE EUROPE 2021 Madeira, Portugal October 5-8, 2021
Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 22-25, 2021
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
NOVEMBER 21 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 www.seawork.com
RAStech 2021 is the venue for learning, networking and knowledge sharing on RAS technologies, design and implementation across the world.
Hilton Head Island, SC, USA November 3-4, 2021
MAY 21 AQUACULTURE UK 2021
Aviemore will once again be the venue for this bi-annual 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 2021 it promises to reach even further across the broader aquaculture markets in both the UK and Europe.
Aviemore, United Kingdom May 19-21, 2021
AQUACULTURE AMERICA WORLD AQUACULTURE 2021 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
SEPTEMBER 21 ASIAN PACIFIC AQUACULTURE 2021
WORLD AQUACULTURE 2021
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 June 14-18, 2021
Industry Diary.indd 63
Merida, Mexico November 15-19, 2021
DECEMBER 21 AQUACULTURE AFRICA 2021 Alexandria, Egypt December 11-14, 2021
Surabaya, Indonesia September 7-10, 2021
SEAFOOD EXPO GLOBAL
San Diego, California, USA February 27 - March 3, 2022
Barcelona, Spain September7-9 2021
WAS NORTH AMERICA & AQUACULTURE CANADA 2021 St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, September 26-29, 2021
APRIL 22 WORLD AQUACULTURE 2022 Qingdao, China April 25-28, 2022
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Opinion – Inside track
Recirculating ideas BY NICK JOY
note that there is now a sustainability director at SSPO, which I am sure is good news for all concerned - but it makes me feel my age. In 1998 I wrote the business plan for Loch Duart and debated with my two colleagues whether it should be called the Sustainable Salmon Company. The consensus was that it was too much of a mouthful and the market wasn’t really ready for it. Looking back, I have to agree with that conclusion. Several years later, I was invited to meet some of the leading farmers in Norway to talk about sustainability. After pontificating about the requirement for a public-facing attitude from the industry, I was stunned to hear from one such leader (who shall remain nameless) who said: “We are not hearing any interest from our customers on this subject!” I managed not to fall over at the ridiculousness of the comment. A lot of his customers were our customers and they were talking about sustainability. Not only that, they were willing to pay more for it. I am glad that attitudes change but I often wonder if it is because we are forced to change. Change is hard, and when it initially brings higher costs it is even harder. I doubt I am the first to say it but I once said at a conference in Bangkok that it is counterintuitive to tell farmers that they will see better profits if they increase their costs. As one good thing is announced, several more depressing ones also hove into view. The advent of genetic engineering in all its manifest forms leaves me cold. Far worse it leaves me seriously scared. Let me define terms: • Genetic modification involves the physical modification of genes, with the cutting and/or removal of segments of gene sequences and/or adding segments. Compared with gene editing, it is described as an imprecise method. • Gene editing uses the cell’s own repair system to insert or change a gene sequence. The desired result is often health-related but also often for commercial advantage.
I am glad “ that attitudes
change but I often wonder if it is because we are forced to change
somehow the fish delivered will be fresher than those delivered from elsewhere. With current delivery systems around the world this is about as untrue as a statement can be, not least because salmon is not at its best fresh out of the sea and is best left cool for several days. All of these subjects are about the attempt of our industry to meet the criticisms that we hear every day. Some people think that if they try to meet the howls of a small group of vociferous protestors they will satisfy them, but their very existence is predicated on being heard howling. Far more importantly, during the last 30 years there have been a number of periods where these people had huge traction and achieved global headlines, This is not one of those times. The industry grew so successfully that it was obvious that the public weren’t that interested. Salmon is not the cheapest protein on the shelf. Our customers tend to be more middle class and in theory should react to these pressures. Why they don’t could be a subject for a book, but suffice to say that perhaps the critics don’t have the ear of the public after all. To achieve good PR you need to understand the audience you are talking to, but also whether that audience is really listening to anyone else. FF
So why does this worry me? This technology omits the one basic check on the development of a species: time. No modern breeding programme would succeed if its investors were told that it will take 100 years to know if it has succeeded. But as we all know, the most successful farmed species were developed over centuries of slow breeding. The ability to change a gene sequence is a fantastic development but it is unreliable. The problem lies in our understanding of genes. It is a true that a particular sequence of genes does define characteristics, but what is less well understood is the overlap between gene sequences and how one gene sequence affects another. So we cut and change without knowing the precise long-term effects. For human health the benefits may be hugely important, but for species that breed in large numbers and have fairly short lifespans the risks are very large. I wrote some time ago an article called “You wouldn’t buy a car without a reverse gear”. I stand by it. Let’s make sure that we are keeping the old stock genes in currency so that we can get ourselves out of trouble when this particular ship hits the rocks, as it surely will! In the news also is the push for recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). I am a deep sceptic about how this will affect the fish, the investors and the final consumer but time will tell. There are several large fallacies on which projections for growth in RAS are based. One is the idea that
Nick Joy.indd 66
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