Fish F armer MAY 2021
Tilapia farming on the shores of Lake Kariba
A more humane way to harvest
Finance for new technology
CANADA Fury over shutdown order
Skye’s the limit The ﬁrst batch for Organic Sea Harvest
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he Sco�sh parliamentary elec�ons of 6 May resulted in the SNP retaining their place in government (with the support of the Sco�sh Greens). Poli�cally the status quo con�nues as before, then, but that does not mean “no change”. As far as the wider poli�cal landscape is concerned, the SNP’s win means that the ques�on of a second referendum on independence is more of a live issue than ever, raising all kinds of ques�ons about Scotland’s future rela�onship with the rest of the United Kingdom, not to men�on the European Union. Change has also been promised from the aquaculture perspec�ve, with a pledge from the SNP to streamline the cumbersome planning consent process for ﬁsh farms, and to introduce a Norwegian-style system of auc�ons. Meanwhile, ﬁsh welfare con�nues to be an important issue for the industry, and in this month’s Fish Farmer we look at how this applies to the harves�ng process. Technology and our increasing understanding of ﬁsh biology are helping to develop a more humane approach to slaughter. We also ﬁnd out how Zimbabwe’s Keith Nicholson built a successful �lapia farming What’s happening in aq business on the shores of Lake Kariba, star�ng out when aquaculture in the country was in the UK and around th What’s happening in aquacu almost unheard of. in the UK and around the w This issue also focuses on Canada, where the –federal government’s decision to shut down JENNY JENNY HJUL HJUL – EDITOR EDITOR farms in the Discovery Islands con�nues to have repercussions; and we proﬁle Organic Sea JENNY HJUL JENNY HJUL –– EDITOR EDITOR Harvest as it prepares to bring to the market its ﬁrst batch of organic salmon, raised in the Steve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham waters around Skye. The ﬁnal sessions Nicki Holmyard explores the possibili�es in using land-based farming to produce warmSteve Bracken SSC’s record results Stewart Graham The ﬁnal sessions water species in the UK, while Vince McDonagh ﬁnds out about project applying ar� ﬁno cial salmon farming sector in Scotland, when it was to he focus this month istoapictures on Europe, where the internati T HE is coincidence that and videos of unhealthy Sno Fish Farmer went press, there was sti lltold oﬃ cialonal intelligence and facial recogni�on technology to were farmed salmon. be the 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 HE salmon farming sector in when itEAS was tosalmon he focus this istopictures on Europe, where the internati is coincidence that and videos of unhealthy Sno Fish Farmer went press, there was sti lltold no oﬃ cialonal This industry con�nues to change -Tand we aim to month con� nue to reﬂ ect that change. opportunity this would provide to explain how it month. operated. Aquaculture Society) and WAS (World Aquaculture Society) parliament went back to work at the start of this These farming, conducted earlier this year by the Rural Economy be thewere subject ofScotti a be parliamentary inquiry, embraced industry willsent soon gathering the EASinto (European salmon to news outletsfor just asjoint the Scotti shthe news from the sh parliamentary inquiry salmon Current trends In good Julie Hesketh-Laird The industry had nothing to hide and, if given aof fair hearing, could Meet thehealth new chief exe conference, to be staged over ﬁ ve days in the southern French images had litt le to do with the current state Scotland’s ﬁ sh and Connecti vity (REC) committ ee. MSPs have now held ﬁ ve opportunity this would provide explain how it month. operated. Aquaculture Society) and WAS (World Aquaculture Society) parliament back to work atto the start of this These farming, went conducted earlier this year by the Rural Economy Best wishes, 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 Robert Outram 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 for the investi gati on. But as the farming inbeing alleviati ngofpoverty. ngs anti -aquaculture suspects, came as Holyrood’s Economy activists. The latest these (see our newsindustry storyRural onmeeti page 4) farmers were drowned out byIncreasingly, the noisier elements of the sessions onpropaganda emerging markets and look atinvolves the role ﬁshusual This campaign, which allofthe madelatest harder by leaks from within the REC to anti -salmon farming 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 ngofpoverty. Increasingly, ngs anti -aquaculture suspects, as Economy activists. latest thesecame (see ourHolyrood’s newsindustry storyRural onmeeti page 4) became more misti c.into Weand now believe that MSPs, perhaps with acceptability ofopti aquaculture the contributi on it farming. makes towe global consider its draft report the future of salmon members have been willing to listen to those campaigning to sessions progressed, and eventually farmers’ voices were heard, are broadening their scope, tackling subjects suchsummer asthat the committ social and Connecti vity committ ee returned the recess ee to makes grim reading for the industry asfrom it suggests Serving Worldwide Aquaculture Since 1977 food security and saving the planet, aindustry move that is toanti welcomed. the excepti on ofvaluable one or two Greens cahoots with -farming Those who want toWe shut down thein asbe shut down this sector, rather than to those who operate became more misti c. now believe that MSPs, perhaps with acceptability ofopti aquaculture and the contributi on ithave, makes toexpected, global consider its draft report into the future of salmon farming. members have been willing to listen to those campaigning to Also investi gati ngacti initi aties, veswhich inregard thenow developing world, Harrison campaigners, will, on balance, the industry in a Dr favourable stepped their viti involve the within it.up food security and saving the planet, aindustry move that is tobreaching welcomed. the excepti on ofvaluable one or two Greens cahoots with anti -farming Those who want shut down thein asbe expected, shut down this sector, rather thanthe tohave, those who operate Meet the team Charo Karisa ofto WorldFish writes about farming potenti al inthe Fish Farmer: Volume 44 Number 05and, light. They will hopefully see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sites to snatch photographs in Of course, such stories may be inaccurate in any case, Also investi gati ngacti initi aties, veswhich inregard thenow developing world, Harrison campaigners, will, on balance, the industry in a Dr favourable stepped viti involve breaching the within it.up their Editorial Advisory Board: Nigeria, both in catf ish and ti lapia culti vati on. responsibiliti es seriously and that businesses will only ever invest in the hope of ﬁ nding incriminati ng evidence against farmers. One committ ee’s ﬁ ndings are not binding. Scotland’s ﬁ sh farmers Contact us Charo Karisa ofhopefully WorldFish writes about thesnatch farming potenti al inthe light. They will see that farmers take their environmental biosecure environments of farm sites to photographs ingame Of course, such stories may be inaccurate and, inof any case, Steve Bracken, Hervé Migaud, Jim Treasurer, In Scotland, the summer has been something aofwaiti ngminister, 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 dead have always fortunate to have the support their Nigeria, both in catf ish and ti lapia culti vati on. responsibiliti seriously will only ever invest the hope of ﬁes incriminati ng businesses evidence against farmers. Onein committ ee’s ﬁnding ndings areand not binding. Scotland’s ﬁsh farmers Chris Mitchell, Jason Cleaversmith while the parliament is inthat recess and thethose members of Holyrood’s Fax: +44(0) 131 551 7901 If the committ ee members, especially who have yet to ﬁ shthat at aEwing, Marine site. Another saidofhea saw ‘hundreds’ Fergus toHarvest growhas sustainably. In Scotland, the summer something ngminister, game of Phil Thomas What’s in a name? Dr Nick Lake growth isﬁbeen sustainable. campaigner lmed himself searching, unsuccessfully, for dead have always fortunate tobeen have the support ofwaiti their and Hamish Macdonell Rural Economy and Connecti vity committ ee conti nue to weigh up Email: routram@ﬁ shfarmermagazine.com visit aparliament salmon farm, would like tothe learn more about the subject of infested salmon in a pen, but we only have his word against that But it should not go unchallenged that some MSPs on the REC while the is in recess and members of Holyrood’s If the ee especially those who yetdon’t to ofexpect ﬁ sh at Marine Harvest site. Another said hefarming. sawhave ‘hundreds’ Fergus Ewing, to grow sustainably. theacommitt evidence inmembers, their inquiry into salmon We 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 bett er, they could head to the Highlands later this month, where 496 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH5 2DL the evidence in their inquiry into salmon farming. We don’t expect Designer: Andrew their Balahura these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of Code of Conduct for MSPs. As they inquiry, we have plenty of good stories in our May issue. Even to professional become fully acquainted with the facts about ﬁthe sh farming. of the vets andagendas biologists who manage welfare committ ee, with their own against the growth of the of Montpellier report Dr Marti n Jaﬀ a Doug McLeod meet the aquaculture industry en masse at Scotland’s theirthey report unti l the autumn but hope the MSPs areas using theittiis, meit Ifthey the is proud of its high standards, itsalmon says are inwill aindustry positi on to inﬂthe uence the future course of farming, Commercial Manager: bett er, could head to Highlands later this month, where This month also sees the reti rement of Marine Harvest’s longest these farms on a daily basis. industry, are in breach of Code of Conduct for MSPs. As they Subscriptions to become fully acquainted with the facts about ﬁ sh farming. biggest ﬁ sh farming show. must mount a much more robust defence of itself, through its and of businesses vital to Scotland’s economy, we have a right Janice Johnston Montpellier report Dr Marti n Jaﬀ a Doug McLeod they will meet the aquaculture industry en masse at Scotland’s serving employee, Steve Bracken. We had no Subscrip� ons Address: Fish Farmer If the isto proud ofreti its high standards, as itsalmon says itcollecti is, it ng are in aindustry positi on inﬂthe uence the future course oftrouble farming, This month also sees rement of Marine Harvest’s longest will certainly be at Aquaculture UK inindustry, Aviemore and look jjohnston@ﬁshfarmermagazine.com representati ve body, the SSPO, than itthe has done tothrough date. The toWe know who they are, and weons, hope its warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the biggest ﬁ sh farming show. Magazine Subscrip� Warners Group must a much more robustWe defence itself, through its and ofmount businesses vital toBracken. Scotland’s economy, we have a right serving employee, Steve had noof trouble collecti ng forward toand, seeing many of you there too. campaigners, we now see, willrest stop nothing, representati ves, will pressure the parliament toand investi gate before Publisher: Alisterrepresentati Benne� milestone along with of the industry, thefarmers team We will certainly be at Aquaculture UK inat Aviemore and look Publica� ons plc, The Mal� ngs, vethey body, the SSPO, than itthe has done tothrough date. The to know who are, and wethe hope industry, its at Fish warm tributes from his friends and colleagues to mark the should be prepared toyou ﬁBourne ght back. the to REC report isStreet, published. Farmer wish him all the very best for the future. West forward seeing many of there too. campaigners, we now see, will stop at representati ves, will pressure the parliament toand investi gateatbefore Rising stars Marti nBrown Jaﬀ a Orkney anniversary Janet milestone and, along with the rest of thenothing, industry, thefarmers team Fish Lincolnshire PE10 9PH should be prepared to ﬁ ght back. the REC report is published. Farmer wish him all the very best for the future.
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Fair hearing French connection Farmers must fight back Uphold the code Fair hearing French connection Farmers must Uphold the codefight back
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Cover: African Sunset over Lake Kariba Zimbabwe Photo: Shu�erstock
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26 22-23 30 Shellﬁ sh Comment BTA 26 22-23 30 Shellﬁ sh Comment BTA 28-31 24-25 32-33 SSPO Comment Scottish Shellﬁ sh Sea Far 28-31 24-25 32-33 SSPO Comment Scottish Shellﬁ sh Sea Farms Rising stars Marti nBrown Jaﬀ a Orkney anniversary Janet 32-33 26-27 26-30 34-35 Shellﬁ shﬁSea Cleaner sh Far Scottish Comment 32-33 26-27 26-30 34-35 Janet Machrihanish Orkney farm Marti nBrown Jaﬀ a visit Shellﬁ shﬁSea Cleaner sh Farms Scottish Comment 13
Janet Machrihanish Orkney farm Marti nBrown Jaﬀ a visit Advisory Board: Steve Contact Tel: +44(0) us 131 551 1000 MeetEditorial the team Fax: +44(0) 131 551 7901 Bracken, Scott Landsburgh, Hervé Steve Bracken, Scott HervéLandsburgh, Migaud, 3 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@ﬁshupdate.com Treasurer, Wiliam Jim Treasurer and Dowds William Dowdsemail: William Dowds Marti nofJaﬀ a era Vaccines New player Dawn new Migaud, PatrickJim Smith and Jim Hervé Patrick Smith, PatrickMigaud, Smith, Treasurer and Editor: Jenny Hjul jhjul@ﬁ 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 10/05/2021 17:07:51 Fettes Park, 496 Ferry Road, Editor: Jenny Hjul
34-35 28-29 32-33 36-41 Comment Cleaner Orkneyvisitﬁsh Farm 34-35 28-29 32-33 36-41 Comment Cleaner Orkneyvisitﬁsh Farm
Fish F armer In the May issue... News
What’s happening in the UK and around the world
Update from the processing sector
Organic Sea Harvest
Start-up prepares for its ﬁrst batch
William Leschen proﬁles Kariba Bream Farm
European conference goes online
Argument over the farms shutdown con�nues
Innovation and Funding
Fish Handling and Harvesting
Processes that put welfare ﬁrst
Monthly update on industry innova�ons and solu�ons
All the latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses
Aqua Source Directory Opinion
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Find all you need for the industry
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United Kingdom News
SNP pledges to ‘streamline’ farm consents in Scotland
The SNP manifesto also pledges support for innovation in aquaculture, including developing closed containment ﬁsh production on land and exploring “the potential to produce more shellﬁsh in warm-water, land-based farms to cut the amount of unsustainably produced ﬁsh and shellﬁsh being imported into Scotland.” It reiterates the SNP’s support for the sector, stating: “Fish farming is something that Scotland is well placed to do well in, but it must grow sustainably, in harmony with the marine environment that supports it.” The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation welcomed the commitment to reforming the consent process. Tavish Scott, SSPO Chief Executive said: “We have been clear: what we want to see is better regulation, not less regulation and this commitment in the SNP manifesto shows that the SNP wants to see this too.” Above: Nicola Sturgeon. Below: A Scottish salmon farm
FISH farmers in Scotland would beneﬁt from a less complicated regulatory system, under proposals set out by the Scottish National Party – but operators may also face a Norwegian-style auction in order to secure permits for extra production. The proposals have been welcomed by the salmon industry and look set to be enacted as the SNP emerged as the largest party in the new parliament. The pledge to introduce a “streamlined” system for permits was set out in the SNP’s manifesto for the Scottish parliamentary elections, which took place on 6 May. The manifesto says a “single determining authority” would decide whether or not to grant consent for new farm consents, based on the regulatory regime in Norway. Currently, in Scotland companies have to apply to four different bodies for four different licences (the local authority for planning permission, Marine Scotland for a marine licence, the Fish Health Inspectorate for a ﬁsh licence and SEPA the Scottish Environment Protection Authority for an environmental licence). This
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is in addition to applying to the Crown Estate, which effectively owns the coastal waters, to secure access to a lease. Each one of these bodies is a statutory consultee on the licence applications determined by the other bodies. The SNP proposal is that applications will be considered by a single authority. The manifesto says: “This will bring greater clarity, transparency and speed to the process.” The manifesto adds: “We will expect producers to contribute much more to the communities which support them so we will also explore how a Norwegian-style auction system for new farm developments might generate signiﬁcant income to support inspection and welfare services, provide real community beneﬁt on islands and in remote rural areas and support innovation and enterprise.” In August 2020, auctions for additional ﬁsh farming sites attracted successful bids from 30 companies and raised NOK 5.6bn (£0.51bn) for the Norwegian government. On average, each additional tonne of production was sold for NOK 219,758 (£19,000).
All the latest industry news from the UK
Fish Vet group rebrands as PHARMAQ Analytic
Above: Chris Matthews
FISH Vet Group is changing its name to PHARMAQ Analytic, following the company’s acquisition by PHARMAQ’s parent company, Zoetis, in July last year. The group, which provides ﬁsh veterinary, diagnostic and environmental testing services, is now a world leader in aquaculture diagnostics for salmonids, the company says. Operations Director Chris Matthews said: “We are proud that for 25 years our team has led the way in developing aquatic veterinary, diagnostic and environmen-
tal approaches in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Going forward as Pharmaq Analytiq, we are excited to be able to honour that heritage of innovation with the additional resources that [come with] being part of Pharmaq and Zoetis.” Pharmaq Analytiq capabilities include coverage in all of the major salmon and trout producing countries, with veterinary, diagnostics and environmental capacities including histopathology, PCR, microbiology, environmental analysis and echography.
Mowi graduate trainees join the company THREE graduates who joined Mowi Scotland 18 months ago on a training programme have been hired to permanent posts. Connie Fairbairn, Shannon Graham and Hilary Turnbull spent 18 months learning the farming business. During this time they have been hands on at hatchery, freshwater and seawater sites, and supported through a structured programme with personal development plans combining practical tasks with academic study and management experience.
Having now completed the training programme, they have secured permanent positions. Connie Fairbairn and Shannon Graham will take up trainee Assistant Manager positions in seawater and freshwater respectively, while Hilary Turnbull has secured a role as Health Manager in the Western Isles. The graduates’ training on- and offsite was able to continue despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Mowi said. Right - clockwise from top left: Shannon Graham;
Connie Fairbairn; Hilary Turnbull
MPs say export barriers must be tackled ‘urgently’ A cross-party group of UK MPs is calling for urgent action to tackle export red tape that has threatened the viability of many meat and seafood businesses. In its report published on 29 April, House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee expresses “urgent concerns” for exporters of highly time-sensitive fresh and live seafood and meat shipments to the EU, particularly small and medium sized businesses. EFRA’s report, Seafood and Meat Exports to the EU, calls for a pragmatic approach on the part of the UK government to seek agreement with the European Union on tackling the export barriers that have been in place since the termination of the Brexit transition period, at the end of last year. The committee says:“Despite overcoming initial ‘teething problems’ the new barriers small seafood and meat export businesses face could render them unviable, and factories and jobs may relocate to the EU.” EFRA’s report calls for the UK government to: • as a matter of priority, seek agreement with the EU on digitising the certiﬁcation of paperwork such as Export Health
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Certiﬁcates; • take a ﬂexible approach to the compensation fund for seafood exporters including reconsidering the cap of £100,000 on individual payments, and providing similar support to meat exporters; • provide the same help to small meat and seafood businesses with the costs of extra red-tape for exports to the EU as they can receive for moving goods to Northern Ireland; and • establish a ring-fenced fund to help create new distribution hubs, which allow smaller consignments to be grouped into a single lorry load, so reducing transport costs. for exporters.
The MPs also say that the UK government’s decision not to impose controls on EU seafood and meat imports to the UK until 1 October 2021, with checks at the border only commencing from 1 January 2022, places UK producers at a competitive disadvantage in their home market. EFRA Chair Nigel Parish MP said: “Even as ‘teething problems’ are sorted, serious barriers remain for British exporters, and it is now imperative that the Government take steps to reduce these. “It must be pragmatic in seeking an agreement with the EU to reduce the red tape that harms both sides, and in the meantime, crack on with giving practical support to small British businesses to sell their produce abroad.” The report also urges the Government to closely monitor the availability of certifying ofﬁcers for environmental health certiﬁcates (EHCs), and to examine the role of public sector certifying services in other countries; and it calls for action to resolve the legal dispute with the European Commission which has made it difﬁcult to export live bivalve molluscs to the European Union. Left: The House of Commons
United Kingdom News
Hybrid workboat shows the way forward INVERLUSSA Marine Services has ordered a new hybrid catamaran from shipbuilder Moen Marin. The vessel will be the first hybrid workboat in Scottish aquaculture. The NabCat 1510 is a 15 metre
catamaran that uses electric and diesel power. It is equipped with Scania propulsion machinery, Nogva rotatable gear and propeller system and Palfinger 65tm and 32tm cranes. Inverlussa is a
Above: The NabCat 1510
leading workboat operator for the aquaculture and offshore energy sectors. Ben Wilson, Managing Director, said “There is more interest for sustainable solutions from both customers and
the customers’ customers. Everybody wants to be greener and more efficient. “For us, it is about being able to offer our customers the widest possible range of the latest and greatest technology.”
Organic Sea Harvest appeals Skye planning decision
INDEPENDENT salmon farmer Organic Sea Harvest has formally appealed against a local authority planning decision over a proposed new farm site off the coast of Skye. OSH has applied for permission for a new site in Balmaqueen, Skye, to add to the two that it already operates on the island. Although officers had recommended approval, the Highland Council North Planning Committee turned down the proposal at a meeting on 26 January, by eight votes to six. The reason given for refusal was that a fish farm would be visually detrimental for north-east Skye’s coastline, which is widely seen as an area of unspoiled beauty and a major tourist attraction. OSH argues that the farm’s limited impact would be greatly outweighed by the economic benefits the farm would The WSFT was established in 1996 to bring to the community, including the monitor and protect wild fish stocks – direct creation of nine full-time jobs and especially wild salmonid populations – in investment totalling £4m. West Sutherland. Loch Duart previously The committee’s decision has also been partnered with the organisation in condemned by Stewart Graham, Group 2018 on a sea trout tracking project Managing Director of aquaculture sector in Loch Laxford, and has now agreed a supplier Gael Force, who said that jobs programme for regular monitoring by would also be lost in his own company as the WSFT. a result of the farm not going ahead. Trust biologists will visit four different The appeal will be decided by a planfarm sites each month to observe the ning appeals reporter appointed by the counts, monitor procedures and record Scottish Government.The timescale the results. They will review the data for the appeal process has not yet been from all sites to establish consistency confirmed. with the findings at those visited. A previous appeal by OSH, over refusDr Shona Marshall, al for a previous proposal for a farm at Senior Biologist at the Flodigarry, also on Skye, was turned down Trust, commented: in January. “Being able to observe OSH CEO, Ove Thu, said: “We are comroutine sea lice mitted to supporting the community in counting on a regular north-east Skye and investing in the fragbasis... will allow us to ile local economy. We believe aquaculture comment objectively will help to support the diversification of on the quality of the Skye’s economy, which relies strongly on lice data that is being tourism, and has struggled greatly during submitted. It will the Covid-19 pandemic. also help us to better “There is absolutely no evidence to sugunderstand what is gest a salmon farm would deter visitors. happening in our sea We believe tourism and aquaculture can lochs.” work hand-in-hand to bolster the local economy.” Left: Loch Duart farm
Loch Duart invites sea lice audit observers SCOTTISH-based salmon farmer Loch Duart has invited independent observers from a fisheries conservation organisation to monitor its regular sea lice checks. Biologists from the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust (WSFT) will attend sea lice monitoring and other health checks at Loch Duart’s sites, which are in the north of Scotland. The move is intended to address any concerns that weekly self-reporting by salmon farmers – a statutory requirement in Scotland since March this year – is not subject to objective independent verification.
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United Kingdom News
Scottish Sea Farms celebrates an antibiotic-free year
SCOTTISH Sea Farms has reached an important milestone in its mission to reduce the use of antibiotic treatments, with zero usage recorded for the company’s marine farms and hatcheries. Scottish Sea Farms says it has managed to avoid using antibiotics at its marine sites since 2012, but 2020 also saw zero use at the company’s freshwater hatcheries. The company attributes this success to a holistic, vet-led approach to fish welfare. Ronnie Soutar, Head of Veterinary Services at Scottish Sea Farms, said: “We’re very proud to have reached this stage. It is important on a global scale that antibiotic use is minimised and only used when absolutely essential, in recognition of concerns over antimicrobial resistance. Scottish salmon farming generally has a very
low use of antibiotics compared with other livestock sectors and Scottish Sea Farms has consistently had antibiotic usage well below the sector’s target.” Soutar said: “Our use in the freshwater phase of production has been because infections can occur before fish are big enough to be vaccinated. However, new husbandry protocols and major investment in biosecure facilities are making such infections increasingly rare.” He added, however, that there is no room for complacency and the company would consider the use of antibiotics if the veterinary advice is that it is essential. Meanwhile, Scottish Sea Farms is also trialling a new aeration system to protect its stock from harmful plankton. Concentrations of plankton can, under some circumstanc-
es, create dangerously low oxygen levels in seawater. The Flowpressor system has been designed by Poseidon Ocean Systems in Canada specifically for use in aquaculture. Unlike a standard industrial compressor, it distributes aerated water evenly among several pens, and it draws water from lower levels, well away from the surface where plankton is concentrated. The pilot, which will start this month, will see six of the trial farm’s 12 pens connected to the Flowpressor and the remaining six pens served by a standard compressor. Innes Weir, Scottish Sea Farms Regional Production Manager for Mainland, said: “We will be looking to see what day-to-day difference the system makes to the feed rate, growth and survival of our salmon overall.”
RSPCA Assured resumes in-person assessments
ANIMAL welfare body RSPCA Assured will be returning to in-person assessments as standard from 17 May, in line with easing Covid-19 restrictions in the UK. The organisation, which carries out independent welfare audits in the livestock and fish farming sectors, said its visits will be “contactless” with the safety and welfare of both members and their animals remaining a priority. RSPCA Assured audits all the leading
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operators in the UK’s salmon farming industry, as well as safeguarding the welfare of a wide range of other farmed species. The visits will be carried out using RSPCA Assured’s “contactless assessment protocol”. Clive Brazier, CEO RSPCA Assured, said: “Desktop assessments and monitoring visits have been a great temporary solution for some of our members during this difficult period, to safeguard the welfare of both them and their animals. “But there is nothing more important to assure ourselves, the public, and our members of the welfare of their farm animals, than seeing them face to face.” Almost three-quarters of assessments carried out by RSPCA Assured in 2020 were in-person, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and avian influenza.
Cumbrae Oysters signs port deal SHELLFISH farmer Cumbrae Oysters has signed a new lease with the owners of Hunterston Port and Resource Centre, doubling the size of its site at the part. Peel Ports, the owner of Hunterston, on the Clyde coast in the west of Scotland, launched a plan late last year to develop the 320-acre Hunterston site, as a hub for a number of sectors, including aquaculture. Cumbrae Oysters director and owner Alan Forbes said: “I am very pleased to have this deal in place. Our oysters are in great demand in places like China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as here in the UK and in Europe, and the South Annan Sands at Hunterston have all the conditions to produce the kind of seafood most wanted in the Far East especially… with this expansion, we will be able to double production and we will be looking to create a further two jobs on site, with additional seasonal opportunities.” In addition to year-round oyster production, Cumbrae also produces razor clams and other species of clams, king scallops, brown crabs, lobsters and blue mussels on a seasonal basis. Jim McSporran, Peel Ports’ Clydeport director, said: “Hunterston PARC has great potential to be at the heart of the fast-growing Scottish aquaculture industry. “Hunterston provides the natural development choice for business in the aquaculture sector to invest. The key attributes, which include the combination of marine infrastructure, energy and access to cold and very deep salt water in which the best shellfish flourish, provide an attractive opportunity to support the growth of the industry. “This announcement is only the beginning and we welcome enquiries from businesses within the sector looking to explore opportunities.”
Above: Cumbrae oysters
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Norwegian salmon farmers appeal against ‘traffic light’ ruling
Above: Norwegian salmon farm
A group of 25 ﬁsh farming companies are pressing ahead with their opposition to Norway’s trafﬁc light scheme for regulating aquaculture growth. A month after losing a key district court hearing, they have now taken their arguments to a court of appeal which will consider their case afresh. The district court also handed them a legal bill of around £155,000. The companies are mainly based in the south west of the country in an area known as PO4 where many of the salmon and trout farms have been placed into the scheme’s “red zone”. This prohibits expansion, and it also means that some of the companies must reduce their output by up to 6%. The Norwegian government says the scheme, which designates various areas as red, green and amber zones, is designed to
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help control salmon lice and protect wild ﬁsh stocks. The ﬁsh farmers argue that the regulations are intrusive and will have serious consequences for their businesses. They are also questioning whether the Ministry of Trade and Industry met the right conditions in law when drawing up the legislation. The companies certainly have a tough ﬁght on their hands. The district court verdict in March was pretty emphatic and ﬁrmly dismissed their arguments that the scheme was an abuse of power, lacked legal authority and was an abuse of human rights. The court said the imposition of a red light zone did not signal a permanent ban on growth in PO4, suggesting that the situation could change if the environmental situation improves.
Seafood Forum announces leading lineup of CEOs for June THE North Atlantic Seafood Forum, Scandinavia’s main industry showcase, will be ﬁelding the largest group of top aquaculture company executives yet – but they will all be staying in their ofﬁces. Coronavirus means this prestigious event has been moved to the summer, and it is going digital this year. Top ﬁsh farming CEO speakers this year include Ivan Vindheim of Mowi, Henning Beltestad of Lerøy Seafood, Regin Jacobsen of Bakkafrost, Andreas Kvame of Grieg Seafood, Charles Høstlund of Norway Royal Salmon and Guðmundur Gíslason of Iceland’s Ice Fish Farm. The three-day NASF conference will be held from 8-10 June. The world’s largest executive seafood business conference, it will feature more than 130 speakers. Scotland will be presenting its case through Dr Iain Berrill, head of Technical at the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, and there is a sizeable showing from China and Asia. Salmon farmers from British Columbia and Chilean, both areas in the news recently, will be speaking. NASF CEO André Akse said: “We have great industry captains and policy makers on the podium, including the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, the CEO of Dongwon Industries Mr. Lee Myung-Woo and Dr. Thevasagayam, deputy director from The Gates Foundation, to mention just a few.”
Above: Henning Beltestad
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Iceland shines light on aquaculture stats
ICELAND has just launched its ﬁrst aquaculture dashboard, bringing near total transparency to the country’s growing ﬁsh farming sector. The online dashboard was unveiled by Fisheries Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson. It will highlight, in one place,
virtually everything connected with aquaculture including the number of ﬁsh under cultivation, reported salmon lice numbers, operating licences, locations where ﬁsh farming is being carried out and the results of various inspections. Iceland has a vociferous sports ﬁshing lobby which is strongly opposed to ﬁsh farming, claiming it is a threat to wild salmon stocks in the country. Júlíusson said: “This ground-breaking step for the government to take the initiative in publishing this information is in line with the policy of amending the Aquaculture Act 2019 to increase transparency in the sector’s activities.”
Bakkafrost shareholders get £25m in reduced dividend payout
Above: A Bakkafrost farm
FAROESE fish farmer Bakkafrost paid its shareholders around £25m in dividends for 2020. Bakkafrost is the largest salmon producer and the biggest private employer on the Faroe Islands. It also has operations in Scotland – where it recently acquired the Scottish Salmon Company – and the US. The group is the world’s third largest salmon producer. The total payout is worth DKK 216m or NOK 294m, with each dividend priced at DKK 3.65 or almost NOK 4.96. A Faroese company that announces its quarterly and annual financial results in Danish kroner, Bakkafrost is listed on the Oslo
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Stock Exchange and the shares are quoted in NOK. The decision to distribute a dividend was not a total surprise, although there would not have been too many raised eyebrows if the company had decided to postpone paying one this time. The figure is around a third less than previous years. Bakkafrost’s earnings and profits were badly hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Its profit came down from almost DKK 802m in 2019 to DKK 462.8m last year. The total harvest volumes were 85,686 tonnes (gutted weight) against 65,000 tonnes in 2019.
Salmon Evolution puts brakes on private placement fundraising
SALMON Evolution, the company which is developing two largescale land-based salmon farm sites in Norway and South Korea, has cancelled a further fundraising exercise after its shares dipped below the offer price. Salmon Evolution carried out a successful share issue on Oslo’s Euronext stock exchange, via a private placement share issue at NOK 6.0, raising NOK 500m (£42.7m). The company had planned a further issue of up to 8,333,333 shares, also at NOK 6.0, which would have raised NOK 50m. Since March, however, the share price has dipped below NOK 6.0. In a stock exchange announcement, the company said: “The price of the share has, for an extended period and with substantial volume, traded below the subscription price in the planned Subsequent Offering. “Existing shareholders wanting to avoid or reduce the dilutive effect of the Private Placement have had the opportunity to purchase shares in the open market at prices below the subscription price in the Private Placement and the contemplated Subsequent Offering. The Company has therefore resolved to cancel the Subsequent Offering.” Salmon Evolution aims to achieve annual production of more than 70,00 tonnes by 2030. Construction of its ﬁrst farm at Indre Harøy in Norway is already under way, and earlier this year the company agreed a joint venture deal with Dongwon Industries for its development in South Korea.
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Nordic Halibut appoints Jacobsen as commercial chief FOLLOWING a successful debut on Oslo’s EuroNext Growth last month, Nordic Halibut has appointed a new Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) to drive the company forward. He is Atle Jacobsen, who has more than 20 years’ experience in director sales and marketing roles. Jacobsen joins from Tine SA, Norway’s largest exporter of cheese and other dairy products, where he was Executive Vice-President, Tine International. His appointAbove Atle Jacobsen ment as a member of Nordic Halibut’s executive management team starts today. Mr. Jacobsen holds a bachelor’s degree (BSc) in Business and Economics from the University of Strathclyde and BI Norwegian Business School. Previous company roles
have included senior positions at Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. As Chief Commercial Officer, Atle Jacobsen will be responsible for all market activities, including the development and commercialisation of future products for new markets
and segments. Nordic Halibut CEO Edvard Henden said: “I am very pleased that we are expanding our management team at Nordic Halibut, and am confident that Atle will prove to be an excellent asset as we work to deliver on our ambitious growth plan and commercial strategy of expanding our product portfolio.” Last week, after the Oslo Stock Exchange confirmed it would accept shares for the halibut producer, its shares took off on the first day’s trading on Euronext Growth, rising by 33%. However, the NOK 115m in fresh capital Nordic Halibut netted was less than half the NOK 300m it originally hoped to raise in March, before abandoning its first listing plan.
Hydroniq wins wellboat cooler contract
Above The wellboat, NB68
HYDRONIQ Coolers has been awarded a contract to supply the marine cooling system for a wellboat that shipbuilder Larsnes Mek Verksted AS is constructing for a Chilean customer. The wellboat, NB68, has been designed by Skipskompetanse AS from Måløy, Norway. The vessel is 79.3 metres long, 15 metres wide and has a total storage capacity of 2,800 cubic metres. Delivery date for the vessel is scheduled for the end of 2021, to Chilean shipowner Naviera Orca Chile SA, a leading operator in transporting live fish in Chile. Hydroniq Coolers will supply its hull-integrated “Rack” seawater cooling system to the wellboat. The cooler is integrated in the hull below the main engine room of the vessel. Jan Inge Johannesen, sales manager at Hydroniq Coolers, said: “We have previously delivered our Rack marine seawater cooling system to several identical wellboats built by Larsnes Mek Verksted. Hence, we are accustomed with the yard’s high quality and delivery requirements and they are familiar with the system’s suitability for wellboats. It is a sensible approach for predictable, high quality deliveries.” Hydroniq Coolers is owned by Norwegian investment company SMV Invest AS.
Nordhammer in line for chair’s role at SalMar LEIF Inge Nordhammer is set to become the next Chairman of fish farming giant SalMar, subject to a shareholders’ vote at the company’s annual general meeting in June. Nordhammer is the recommended candidate put forward by SalMar’s Nomination Committee to succeed Atle Eide, who will be stepping down at the AGM on 8 June. Nordhammer has had two stints as Chief Executive at the company (1996-2011 and 2014-2016) and currently runs his own investment company LIN AS. He is also a board member of Kverva
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AS, a privately-owned investment company in the Nordics specialising in aquaculture and marine resources, which is SalMar’s majority shareholder. He has been a board member of SalMar since 2020, and is Chairman of Scottish Sea Farms, which is co-owned by SalMar and Lerøy Seafoods. Also nominated as a new board member by the Nomination Committee is Magnus Dybvad, Investment Director of Kverva. The committee is recommending the re-election of Margarethe Hauge as Deputy Chairman. Above Eeif Inge Nordhammer
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Hot springs could power Icelandic fish farm
Above: Þorlákshöfn, Iceland
WORK has started on building Iceland’s largest fish farm in an area of the country more renowned for its mineral water and geothermal energy. The aquaculture company Landeldi ehf, founded by a group of Icelandic entrepreneurs, plans to initially produce 6,000 tonnes a year, for which environmental permission has been granted. It is eventually planned to increase that figure to 20,000 tonnes, which would have a
potential export value of at least ISK 20-billion (£116m). When completed the project is expected to create around 150 jobs. The 45-acre on-land location is close to the tourist resort of Þorlákshöfn, about 30 miles from the capital Reykjavik in the south west of the country. Known as Ölfus municipality, the area is popular with surfers and boasts some of Iceland’s best spring water. Chairman Ingólfur Snorra-
Eimskip’s transatlantic shipping plan pays off
AN “experimental” export route by sea to the United States and Canada for fresh salmon exports has exceeded expectations, according to Icelandic shipping company Eimskip. Exporters in Iceland and the Faroe Islands began a series of trial runs during the second half of last year. Eimskip says they were so successful that they have now become regular weekly shipments. The company recently adapted its shipping system to meet the increased demands of customers in North America. Eimskip reports: “Quality tests have passed all comparisons and the parties have already begun to look at distribution [to] places at a greater son said Landeldi had already distance from the ports of discharge, even as far started producing juveniles,ad- as Miami and Los Angeles.” ding that it was hoped to In addition to salmon, several successful quality begin harvesting by the end of transatlantic test next year. shipments of Seawater can be pumped up whitefish have from 70 to 100 metre depths, also taken place, fully and naturally filtered, the and the company company says, matching the expects to see “a highest standards available considerable infor salmon farming. The site crease” in whitealso has access to geothermal fish shipments energy with water temperaover the next tures exceeding 100 degrees Above: Eimskip Dettifoss at sea few months. Celsius.
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Norway’s seafood exports rose 4% in April DESPITE a strengthening currency and the continuing negative effects of coronavirus, Norway’s seafood exports increased by 4% in value terms during April, year on year. Salmon exports showed particularly strong growth. Norway’s fish farmers sold 86,000 tonnes of salmon worth NOK 5.8bn (£501m) last month, representing a value rise of 9% with volumes up by 4%. Paul T. Aandahl, analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said that a year ago the market was thrown into great turbulence and uncertainty, but the good news is that salmon prices are now rising again. He explained: “Measured in Norwegian kroner, the price increase for fresh whole salmon was 11% in April. Converted into euros, the price increase is as much as 25%. Overall, the exchange rate change had a negative value effect of NOK 702.9m (£60m) on salmon exports in April.” Overall, seafood exports last month totalled NOK 8.6bn (£743m), a rise of 4% on a year ago and is the second highest April figure so far. Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said: “This is partly due to
the fact that record high volumes are being exported at increased prices for salmon and snow crab, among other things. The demand for salmon in France and Italy is again increasing, while the Americans have opened their eyes to the snow crab.” Norway’s currency has strengthened this year, however, which means exporters are receiving less for their products. Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, director of market insight and access at the Seafood Council explained: “Our calculations show that the negative currency effect for all Norwegian seafood exports in April alone was about one billion kroner compared to April 2020. If we compare the first four months of this year with the same period last year, this effect amounts to two billion kroner.” Exports of farmed trout totalled 3,800 tonnes, down 10% in volume but the value went up by 5% to NOK 246m (£21m). Sales of fresh and frozen cod grew strongly last month. Fresh cod was up by 61% with the value increasing by 25% to NOK 385m (£33m). Frozen cod exports rose by 42% in volume and rose by 13% in value to NOK 315m (£27m).
Pure Salmon picks Benchmark for ova supply contract BENCHMARK Genetics has won a contract to supply eggs for landbased aquaculture group Pure Salmon. The agreement covers the delivery of more than 80 million eggs per annum, at full capacity, and also formalises a strategic collaboration in research and development. The first delivery of ova is expected in 2022. Pure Salmon is a landbased salmon farmer using RAS (recirculating aquaculture systems) technology. It operates a farm in Poland and is currently developing sites in Japan, France and the United States, with further development planned in China, South-East Asia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The group is working towards a target production capacity of around 260,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon annually. Benchmark Genetics is significantly increasing production capacity in Iceland by building a new incubation centre, which is expected to be in operation as early as this summer. Benchmark has also hired two new dedicated team members within the commercial team with specific competencies and experience with farming in RAS systems. David Cahill, Head of Production with Pure Salmon, said: “Securing supplies of salmon ova is of key importance for the realisation and success of our ambitious plans. We have chosen Benchmark Genetics as our partner due to their proven record of supply to customers worldwide. Also, the fact that their production systems of holding broodstock on land the entire life cycle secures the highest levels of biosecurity in the industry. Left Benchmark Genetics eggs
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ISA outbreak reported in Nordland region A potentially worrying outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) has been reported in the Nordland region of Norway. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is currently dealing with at least three suspected or confirmed cases in one of the country’s main salmon farming areas. Last Thursday it received reports of a suspected outbreak at sea site 36037 Klipen where Nova Sea AS and Tomma Laks AS operate farm sites. The findings are based on early scientific PCR analysis samples. The authority says it plans to take follow-up samples soon so that the Veterinary Institute can verify suspicions. ISA has also been confirmed at sea site 11138 Skalsvika in Meløy municipality, where Nova Sea also has farming operations, and there has been a suspected ISA outbreak at the sea site 38517 Måvær in Lurøy municipality, where Lovundlaks farms. Similar tests will be carried out in order to confirm or dispel
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earlier suspicions. In order to limit the spread of infection, strict travel and other restrictions have been imposed on the site, including a ban on the movement of fish without a special permit. Meanwhile, the authority says ISA has been confirmed at a research station at Gildeskal municipality in Nordland run by GIFAS, a privately owned research business. GIFAS reported its suspicions towards the end of March and follow up testing has now established that the disease is present. ISA outbreaks – suspected or confirmed - usually mean that infected salmon cages have to be emptied and the fish destroyed. It also means the farms in question cannot export to a number of countries, most notably China. An official inquiry into the high number of ISA cases last year is currently under way. The disease, while contagious and costly for those farms affected, is not harmful to humans.
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Profits and return on capital soar for AKVA
Above Knut Nesse AQUACULTURE technology and services group AKVA has recorded a “respectable performance” for 2020 despite Covid-19. The company’s annual report records increased revenues and operating proﬁts, along with a higher return on capital employed. Financial highlights include: revenues increased by 3% to NOK 3,177m (£274m); EBIT was up from NOK 62m (£5.3m) in 2019 to NOK 147m (£12.7m) in 2020; net proﬁt of
NOK 91m (£7.8m), was up from NOK 17m (£1.46m) in 2019; and ROACE (return on average capital employed) increased from 3.3% at end of 2019 to 8% at end of 2020. CEO Knut Nesse said: “We are dependent of our customers’ ﬁnancial capacity and willingness to invest in new technology and sustainable solutions.” He said he expected to see demand growth of 1-2 million tonnes by 2030, adding: “The increased demand will be covered through both conventional and unconventional supply sources. Increase in conventional production will require investments in new technology to increase capacity and utilisation in existing facilities. “However, a signiﬁcant part of the increased demand needs to be covered from unconventional production and AKVA group believes
that full grow out facilities on land will play an important role in the future. “ Nesse said AKVA had set a target of 50% increase in spending within digitalisation and technology to support growth ambitions. He concluded: “Despite falling victim to a cyber extortion attack hampering our organisation at the start of 2021 the longterm fundamentals remain unchanged and we are conﬁdent that we will reach our targets.”
Above AKVA group Feed Barge
Norway Royal Salmon to give up triploid production NORWAY Royal Salmon has announced it is abannumber of years. The decision is being seen as a doning plans to continue breeding triploid salmon. setback for the company which has now said it will The news follows a decision by the Ministry of switch totally to diploid salmon by 2023. Trade and Industry to order the suspension of future CEO Charles Høstlund said: “NRS has now for development work on this type of fish until it can be many years made a significant effort to develop established it is bringing welfare benefits. and improve the production of triploid salmon in colThe Norwegian Food Safety Authority has decided laboration with the [Norwegian] Institute of Marine that no new triploid smolt will be released after the Research and other professional institutions. spring of 2022, and that no triploid salmon should “One of the experiences with triploid salmon is be kept at sea past the end of 2023. that it seems to be more exposed to bacterial and Triploid salmon has three sets of chromosomes, viral diseases.” unlike ordinary diploid salmon which has two. The “As a result, NRS has had a dialogue with the extra chromosome, added through hormone treatMinistry of Trade and Industry, where the Ministry ment, makes the fish sterile, so if they escape and has come to the conclusion that they adjust the Above Charles Høstlund get into rivers they are unable to interbreed with condition of use of sterile fish until there is a deciwild fish stocks. sion in the administration on whether triploid production is fish welfare NRS has been working on the experimental triploid project for a sound or not.”
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Kingfish Company reports harvest up for Q1 THE Kingfish Company, producer of high value yellowtail kingfish, has reported a first quarter harvest of 228 tonnes, 19 per cent up on the final three months of 2020. The company is still in the red financially but says this is expected given the pace of investment required to build up capacity in the US and Netherlands. Sales of whole fish equivalent (WFE) in the period totalled 140 tonnes, an increase of 92% year-over-year and in line with Q4 2020, despite hotel, catering and restaurant (horeca) closures throughout the quarter CEO Ohad Maiman, said he was pleased with the Q1 performance which he put down to a strong effort by a dedicated team at the business. He told shareholders: “We produced 228 tonnes of high-value Yellowtail Kingfish in the first quarter of 2021, setting another productivity record of 0.70kg
(biomass growth per cubic meter per day). “On the sales and marketing front, we delivered several strategic retail launches in Europe and in the US, with more exciting developments in the pipeline.” He also said the US site development and phase-2 expansion in the Netherlands were advancing on track, while phase 1b has been completed on time, bringing total installed capacity in the Netherlands to 1,250 tonnes. This phase is scheduled to complete stocks in the second half of this year. The revenues for last year came out at €4.97m, more or less in line with 2019. Kingfish said EBITDA was negative at €3.54m and net loss after tax was €3.6m, reflecting the substantial scale-up of capacity that the company is currently undertaking in its expansion of the Netherlands site and development of its first US site in Maine.
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Australian MPs focus on barriers to growth THE Australian parliament has ordered an ofﬁcial inquiry into the state of the country’s aquaculture industry. A number of politicians fear the sector could be starting to stagnate. Fish farming in Australia is both Above: Southern Blueﬁn tuna extensive and well as the ability of business varied, and has to access and commercialise experienced steady growth new innovations. over the past since 2002, Rick Wilson, chairman of but its annual worth has the House Agriculture and plateaued at just over AUS Water Resources Committee $1bn (£0.56bn) in the last explained: “Australia has a few years. Now the House Agriculture well-deserved reputation for producing high quality, and Water Resources sustainable seafood, with Committee says it wants aquaculture products to ﬁnd out why through an accounting for over 40 per inquiry. cent of Australian seafood It says the inquiry will production in terms of value. investigate the status of “Increasing consumer the sector, including ways demand for Australian to streamline and increase native species, together with the effectiveness of current internationally recognised regulatory frameworks, as
seafood quality and standards, means that Australian aquaculture is competitively positioned to access high value domestic and overseas markets.” He added: “The Committee will be examining opportunities and barriers to the expansion of the sector, including the ability of enterprise to access capital and investment.” Australians are avid consumers of seafood and the busiest places on Christmas Eve are the country’s big city ﬁsh markets. The country cultivates several types of farmed ﬁsh including Atlantic salmon in Tasmania, southern Blueﬁn tuna, barramundi, crabs and shrimp. The committee said it would accept submissions up to the middle of May.
Report counts urban cost of BC farm closures AN economic analysis commissioned by the salmon industry in British Columbia has found that hundreds of urban jobs are also at risk as a result of the Canadian government’s decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery islands region. The report, from independent consultants RIAS, analysed the economic importance of ﬁsh farming for processing and related business in the city of Surrey, in British Columbia. RIAS has also published a study looking at the direct impact of the closure decision on aquaculture jobs and the community in the Discovery Islands/Campbell River region. The latest RIAS report ﬁnds that, for Surrey alone, salmon farming contributes (in Canadian dollar $220m in annual revenue and $46m in GDP. There are 344 jobs (full-time equivalent); and $24m in annual salaries dependent on the industry. Surrey’s salmon processing sector generates more than $363m for the province of British Columbia, and 1,189 full-time jobs, the report says. See Islands at War, page 48 of this issue.
Aussie kingﬁsh producer looks to Oslo listing A leading Australian aquaculture company has taken the unusual step of asking to be listed on the Oslo Stock Market . Clean Seas Seafood Limited, based in Spencer Gulf, Port Lincoln, South Australia and a producer of kingﬁsh, mulloway and tuna, has made a formal application for a secondary listing on the Euronext Growth Exchange,
Above: Clean Seas Seafood Limited
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trading home to many of Norway’s emerging ﬁsh farming businesses. Clean Seas plans to launch a private offering of new shares to raise capital to more than treble current production of Kingﬁsh to around 10,000 tonnes. The company, which has engaged Sparebank 1 Markets and Bell Potter Securities as facilitators, yesterday requested a temporary trading halt to its ordinary shares quoted on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) pending the Oslo announcement. In 2005, Clean Seas became the ﬁrst aquaculture business to be listed on the ASX. Clean Seas Seafood, formerly known as Clean Sea Tuna Ltd, describes itself as a fully integrated Australian Aquaculture business and the global leader in full cycle breeding, farming, processing and marketing of its hiramasa or yellowtail kingﬁsh. The company said:“Clean Seas is recognised for innovation in its sustainable yellowtail kingﬁsh farming and has become the largest producer of aquaculture yellowtail kingﬁsh outside Japan.” Clean Seas is also carrying out research and development work aimed at the future production of southern blueﬁn tuna. The company’s other ﬁnﬁsh sales include the whiteﬁsh known in Australia as mulloway, and wild-caught tuna. Its farming facilities are based at Spencer Gulf and the South Australia ﬁshing town of Arno Bay.
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10/05/2021 04/09/2020 10:05:08 10:49:47
Cargill appoints new President, Aqua Nutrition
Above: Helene Ziv-Douki
INTERNATIONAL feed group Cargill has appointed Helene ZivDouki as President of its aquaculture business. Ziv-Douki, who joined Cargill in 2003, succeeds Pilar Cruz who was recently promoted to the new post of Chief Sustainability Ofﬁcer. Ziv-Douki ﬁrst joined the animal nutrition and health team in 2017 as the risk management and sourcing director for the company’s aqua nutrition business. She said: “It’s an honour and dream come true to come back to our world-class aqua nutrition team. I’m excited to lead the team into
the future as we chart a bold new course for a sustainable aquaculture, making a positive impact for the planet while delivering superior products to our customers. I’m really looking forward to spending time with our customers to identify how we can best serve them and create new opportunities for success.” Ruth Kimmelshue, global lead for Cargill’s animal nutrition and health enterprise, said: “Helene’s success during her more than 20-year career reﬂects her approach as a builder of multicultural, diverse teams and talent, her customer focus, and her passion for excellence and innovation. She brings a passion for sustainability and the aqua and seafood industry, with unique capabilities and perspectives that will help our aqua nutrition team advance its business objectives and deliver for our customers.” Cargill Aqua Nutrition is one of the largest aqua feed producers in the world, making feed for customers in 20 countries.The business operates 40 facilities – with 19 dedicated to aqua nutrition – around the globe.
Aquaculture America ‘will be in-person event’ AQUACULTURE America, one of the leading trade shows for the sector, is due to go ahead as an inperson event in August, organisers say. The largest aquaculture event in the western hemisphere, Aquaculture America is planned for 11-14 August at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio,Texas. The organisers, MarEvent, said:“We have considered the COVID-19 situation and we feel that with vaccination progress and the measured return of in-person gatherings, we can go forward with Aquaculture America 2021.
Speciﬁc measures related to COVID-19 safety protocols at Aquaculture America 2021 will be announced at a later date to reﬂect the most current guidance.” The event is jointly hosted by the US Aquaculture Society (formerly the US Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society), the National Aquaculture Association and the Aquaculture Suppliers
Association. More information for exhibitors, those interested in attending and academics looking to present an abstract can be found on the World Aquaculture Society website www. was.org/. MarEvent has further conﬁrmed that Aquaculture Europe 2021 is also expected to take place as an in-person event, this October (see page 47 for details).
Above: San Antonio,Texas
Atlantic Sapphire Q1 harvest down as losses mount LAND-BASED salmon producer Atlantic Sapphire has unveiled lessthan-spectacular harvest ﬁgures in its 2021 ﬁrst quarter trading update. The company, best known for its Miami Bluehouse salmon says just 721 tonnes were produced during the three month period, 421 tonnes from Florida, USA and 300 tonnes from Denmark. The company was hit by technical issues in its RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) in Miami towards the end of March which cost the company at least 500 tonnes in lost ﬁsh. Atlantic Sapphire has also released its annual report which shows net losses of US $55.2m, compared to a net loss of $13.2m in 2019. Revenues for 2020 totalled $6.3m against $5.5m in 2019. The EBIT or operating loss was $46.6m against $33.8m in 2019. The company is still at a relatively early stage with its “Bluehouse” Florida project, and, like other producers, it has been struggling with the
Above: Atlantic Sapphire CEO Johan Andreassen holding Bluehouse Salmon
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pandemic’s negative impact on salmon prices. In addition to its 2,400 tonne land farm in Hvide Sande, Denmark, Atlantic Sapphire’s “star” site is its land facility at Homestead in Florida where production is planned to rise from 10,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes in a couple of years and to well over 200,000 tonnes by 2031. Commenting on 2020, chairman and CEO Johan Andreassen said it had been a challenging year for everyone but the company came together and proved its resilience as a team and a community. He added: “As ﬁsh farmers, our key milestone of 2020 was the USA’s ﬁrst commercial harvest in September 2020. “A decade-old dream of farming salmon on land in the end-market is now reality, and since then, we have been sending fresh, delicious salmon out to consumers across North America every week. “ Andreassen said 2020 was a year of construction and biomass build-up: “We saw relatively low harvest volumes in the USA and Denmark while we were building up biomass to reach steady-state production. “With large infrastructure value, patented access to the unique aquifers of Florida, and a signiﬁcant biomass on the balance sheet, we have started 2021 as a full scale Bluehouse salmon producer, ready to expand even further what is already by far the world’s largest land-based ﬁsh farm. “ Andreassen also welcomed increased interest from investors and other stakeholders during the year, adding that Covid-19 had not distracted from Atlantic Sapphire’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the environment. Two weeks ago the Bank of America delivered an upbeat report on prospects for Atlantic Sapphire. According to the Norwegian website TDN Direkt, the bank gave it a “buy” recommendation. Alexander Jones, an analyst at Bank of America, highlighted the beneﬁts of land-based farming which he says means fresh ﬁsh with lower prices, for consumers in the United States.
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‘We were let down’ say Scottish processors Scotland’s seafood processors have accused both the Westminster and Holyrood governments of letting the sector down “in its hour of greatest need” pay-outs be made? “We need to know, but we are greeted with silence on this at every turn.” He also accused There have the Scottish governbeen a lot of ment, which has set promises... up its own scheme to compensate seafood but very few producers and ports, have been for failing to use its delivered devolved powers or funds to help the processing industry. He said: “They have a £14m fund, yet there are no guidelines and the £100m funding application process scheme promised for in place. We know fisheries when the Brexit deal was signed only that all projects must be for SMEs and at Christmas would completed by 31 March work and which businesses would benefit. 2022 – far too tight a timetable for major He declared: “This works.” funding package now Buchan said it was looks like a convenient time for both govheadline designed to ernments to step up appease the sector. to the plate and back When will they start their promises with taking bids, who will meaningful action. be eligible, when will
Above: Jimmy Buchan
JIMMY Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association said that while members welcomed the promise of financial support, the £23m Seafood Disruption Scheme for the seafood industry pledged by the UK government
to offset the impact of Brexit and Covid-19 only represented 50% of losses. It also excluded larger businesses and those exporters which decided not to send larger consignments because the cost exceeded the value.
He said: “The truth is that while the financial support that has been forthcoming has been gratefully received, its partial nature means that businesses are being left in great difficulties in their hour of greatest need.
“There have been a lot of promises relating to smoothing the export path post-Brexit, but very few of them have been delivered.” Buchan further criticised the UK government for failing to spell out how
Relay initiative launches a voyage of discovery THE variety and quality of UK seafood is the focus of an ini�a�ve launched in April to raise public awareness. The UK Seafood Relay celebrates UK commercial ﬁshing and the special coastal community behind it. By collabora�ng with volunteers from around the country, the Relay will gather stories, photos and videos from key ﬁshing towns to share with the Bri�sh public on a purpose-built, interac�ve map. The project, based around the Discover Seafood website discoverseafood.uk/uk-relay/, aims to foster a greater understanding of local seafood at a point in �me when support and recogni�on of the UK ﬁshing industry is cri�cal. The Relay local journalists,
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bloggers, photographers and ﬁlmmakers, both hobbyist and professional, the relay ‘adventurers’ will travel along the UK’s dynamic coastline to gather stories from ﬁshmongers and ﬁshermen, and share them with the online Discover Seafood community. Gavin O’Donnell, Fisheries Programme Oﬃcer at the Fishmongers’ Company said: “The UK Seafood Relay will support Discover Seafood in its mission to educate the public about seafood, seasonality and sustainability, shining a light on the ‘faces of ﬁshing’ that deserve to be put on the seafood map but as of yet remain ‘undiscovered.’ By telling the story of Bri�sh ﬁsh through the people and communi�es behind it, we want to encourage the public
to support the UK’s rich ﬁshing culture and turn to local, sustainably-caught, Bri�sh seafood in the wake of Brexit.” Ka�e S�lwell, one of the relay’s ﬁrst “adventurers”, said: “Taking part in the Relay has helped me to reconnect with the coastal community in my hometown. It’s a great privilege
to be able to share the stories of the people making a living through ﬁshing sustainably and to engage a new audience through storytelling and crea�vity. I’ve met so many interesting characters and have learnt so much about the people who land the catch on my plate!”
Fish supplier meets tough safety standard GRIMSBY salmon and trout specialist JCS Fish is again celebra�ng achieving the Bri�sh Retail Consor�um (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, despite the complexity and challenge involved in audi�ng under Covid-19 condi�ons. The standard is the most widely-used quality assurance standard in food manufacturing and the benchmark applied by all the UK’s major supermarkets to qualify their suppliers. It is usually awarded as the result of a detailed on-site audit by a BRC-accredited assessor, something not possible this year. JCS Financial Controller, Rosie Knight, said: “The BRC audit is always rigorous, but the Covid era assessment proved excep�onally complex, requiring two and a half days of online assessment, factory inspec�ons conducted via WhatsApp and the electronic sharing and processing of a vast number of documents. “We es�mate that achieving BRC under the current condi�ons was about 25% more costly in terms of both �me and expenditure. Nevertheless, we’re delighted to have overcome the challenges to achieve our BRC accredita�on once again.” Family-owned JCS Fish specialises in salmon. The company has managed to maintain its £10m revenue over the past 12 months by replacing the loss of foodservice sales during
Above: JCS Fish, Ann Rogers and Rosie Knight
the pandemic with increased home delivery and retail sales. Established 21 years ago by husband and wife team Andrew and Louise Coulbeck, JCS Fish now employs 40 people on Grimsby Fish Docks and has an annual turnover of £10m.
The company’s own award-winning BigFish™ brand is distributed in independent and online retailers (including Ocado and MuscleFoods) and includes products such as prepared salmon ﬁllets, ﬁsh cakes, breaded salmon and smoked ﬁsh.
Bremnes Seashore invests in processing centre ONE of Norway’s leading suppliers of farmed salmon is investing around NOK 400m (£35m) in a large new processing centre and cold store. The development will cover an area of 14,000 square metres at the Bremnes Seashore factory at Kvednavikjo in the Bømlo municipality in the south west of the country. The Seashore group said: “It will enable us to produce larger volumes by utilising state-of-the-art and sustainable production methods, at the same time as we increase value creation and the ripple effects from our operations.” The new centre will also be built adopting a sustainable and energy-efficient production system. Bremnes Seashore AS is one of the largest privately owned salmon farmers in Norway with facilities spread across 23 locations in nine different municipalities, with SALMA as its main brand. The company has its own research and development facilities using
technology which it claims allows it to produce salmon products of a higher and more consistent quality than its competitors. CEO Einar Eide said consumers were today demanding a more refined product which the group intended to deliver. “The new factory will enable us to process significantly larger volumes than we are doing today and it will also allow us to expand the number of products.” He added: “Consumers all over the world can look forward to more quality products from us.” Factory manager Geir Ivar Adnanes said that for the past 29 years the site at Kvednavikjo has been a laboratory for quality and providing innovative products, which has formed the basis for the company’s strong brands. The cold store will be built first, but the entire project should be completed by the end of 2023. Current production will be unaffected.
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2021-03-15 10:09:50 10/05/2021 16:02:48
BY DR MARTIN JAFFA
Chicken feed Maybe it’s time to revisit a bright idea from the 1990s?
ndustry critics regularly refer to comments, made by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee in 2018, to the effect that that “the status quo is not an option”. In fact, when it comes to salmon farming the status quo has never been an option. From the earliest days, improvement and innovation have always been at the forefront of development, otherwise we would still be farming a few hundred tonnes of salmon in small wooden pens in the sheltered waters at the head of some Scottish lochs. The salmon farming industry has moved significantly forward from those early days. It has not all been plain sailing, however. It is only necessary to scan the pages of back issues of Fish Farmer magazine to see that innovation has not always been successful, but that is part of the learning curve in what is still a relatively new sector. Given that this issue of Fish Farmer looks at
Martin Jaffa.indd 26
innovation (see feature, page 52), I thought that I would relate my own experience of trying to investigate a potentially innovative solution. In those days, there was no real help for new start-up businesses, especially when it came to innovative ideas and certainly no Dragon’s Den type of TV programme to highlight the difficulties of innovation on a limited budget. The concept of the innovation came from my time when I was working as the fish specialist for an animal nutrition and healthcare company. I was responsible for the launch of the first dedicated range of fully licensed in-feed medicines and one of the questions I began to ask was how we could ensure that all the medication administered was actually consumed by the fish. This was not a problem encountered by my colleagues specialising in other species, since medicinal feed fed to a terrestrial farm animal that is uneaten remains in the feed trough and can be seen and recorded. Back in the early 1990s, once pellets left the feed scoop, there was no guarantee they would be eaten by the fish and certainly not in sufficient quantity to produce a beneficial effect. It was clear to me that the treatment had one single requirement and that was to pass through the water column in the pen so it would become accessible to the fish. It occurred to me that the feed didn’t need to pass down through the water column but could just as equally pass up through it. Instead of feeding the treatment from the surface, why not feed from the bottom of the pen and let it rise to the surface where it would be seen by the farm staff as an indicator of whether it was consumed or not? Trout feed is manufactured to be buoyant and float on the surface. The challenge was how to get a buoyant feed down to the bottom of the pen and then release it in a controlled manner. This was the real sticking point. My eureka moment came as I wandered around the stands at the Pig and Poultry Show at the National Agricultural Showground. Food is distributed around poultry sheds by a simple system using chains and disks running through pipework. Every other link of the chain is a disk that is just smaller than the diameter of the pipe. Feed is trapped between the disks and is dragged around the pipework, filling the various feeders around the sheds. I could see that using this system, buoyant feed could be taken down to the bottom of the pen and released. This system works, but the logistics of fitting a feed delivery system
Above: Salmon Left: Chicks feeding
in salmon pens during the early 1990s proved more difficult than on paper, especially on a limited budget. It was made even more difficult because the Italian manufacturers of the chain disks, after initial talks, decided to build a prototype before a design had been agreed, and it was not as I had envisaged. One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but this prototype was over-engineered and designed to sit above the pen when not in use, which was not seen as practical. It didn’t help that McConnell Salmon decided to trial the unit at what was probably its most remote site in the Outer Hebrides. A fundamental issue was why any farming company would want to consider the installation of a large stainless-steel structure on each of its pens simply as a way of administering medicated food? The answer is that this reverse feeding method had other, more interesting benefits. More than 20 years later, it is only necessary to look at the idea of the snorkel pen to understand the real attraction of this feeder. The snorkel pen is designed to keep the fish low in the water column out of the reach of larval sea lice which tend to congregate at the sea’s surface. Even now, using the latest feed technology, the fish are encouraged to rise to the surface to take the feed, right into the sea lice zone. Reverse feeding from the bottom of the pen would encourage the fish to feed low down in the water column and reduce the contact between them and larval sea lice. Incorporating a feeder into existing pens would make a lot more sense than investing in the snorkel or semi closed unit. In the days before the widespread use of video technology, reverse feeding would also reduce the amount of waste feed.
Instead of feeding the treatment “ from the surface, why not feed from the bottom of the pen? ”
This innovation was ahead of its time. The cost savings were not sufficiently large to drive its development, so it just didn’t happen then. Over the ensuing years, I have suggested that others look at it, but it seems that the idea of reversing existing feed technology is just a step too far, despite the clear benefits. I believe that a simpler feeder could be attached to existing technology, so that the only difference today would be that once the feed arrives at the pen, it is taken down below the surface rather than administered at the top of the pen. Given the cost of sea lice to the industry, it is surprising that this innovative approach has never been investigated further. It just needs someone to champion it. FF
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Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation
BY HAMISH MACDONELL
Party pledges The SNP’s commitment to streamlining planning consent for fish farms is very welcome
ack in the early days of the Scottish Parliament, manifesto launches were a big deal. They signalled the kick-off of the campaign. They set the tone and they were important; indeed, parties that got them wrong could see their whole strategy thrown off course. Political hacks like me used to scour each one for stories and clues about subtle shifts in approach or policy. Now, manifestos tend to emerge in dribs and drabs; some so late in the campaign, a number of people will have already voted by post by the time they appear. Partly this is a reflection of the way politics has changed, but it is also a rational response to the fact that there is not much of a contest in Scottish politics at the moment. After all, why should anyone give much credence to either the Conservative or Labour manifestos in the run up to the election, when neither party appeared to have a realistic chance of forming the next government? So, while Scotland’s salmon farmers should probably have been insulted that neither the Tory nor Labour manifestos bothered to mention their world-famous, export-leading sector at all, in purely political terms that omission didn’t really matter. There were really only two important manifestos on show during the Scottish election and one was much, much more important than any other – that was the Scottish National Party manifesto. The SNP went into the election as the party of government, and it is apparent now that the votes have been counted that it has emerged as the biggest party once again. Not only is the manifesto set to form the basis of the SNP’s programme for government for the next term, but also, given the results, that programme has a reasonable chance of becoming cast-iron law. And that is where we have something to cheer. Some of our counterparts elsewhere in the world have had to cope with governments losing faith in fish farming, while for the last 14 years we have had a governing party in Scotland which recognises the importance of aquaculture and is prepared to change the law to make sustainable growth more achievable. The SNP manifesto was clear: the party, if returned to power, would reform the regulatory process to make it speedier and more efficient.
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More, the SNP would look to replace the current cumbersome, lengthy and bureaucratic planning system with something better. That means replacing the current system and its reliance on four different regulators – each taking turns to look at the concerns of each other – with one single determining authority. This is technical but it is very, very important. Our farmers have been held back for years by such a turgid planning process that applications have been sitting overdue for hundreds of days. If we are to compete with our international rivals, we have to have a planning system that is up to the task; and now the SNP has recognised that fact. As we in the SSPO have argued many times, we need better regulation, not less regulation and now it seems that Scotland’s biggest party seems to agree. The SNP manifesto did also include a slightly more concerning commitment to explore closed containment on land. But, given that some of Scotland’s biggest salmon producers have championed the use of closed containment for the freshwater phase of salmon development, the benefits of the selective and judicious use of this technology should be something we commend, not shy away from. While the SNP manifesto’s commitments on salmon farming were clearly well researched and carefully written, the same could not be said for the Scottish Green manifesto. This was Above: Salmon farm in Scotland the other important policy package on show during the campaign. The antipathy that the Scottish Greens show towards salmon farming is well known. I’ve written before about how extraordinary it is
planning system that is up to the task
for a party committed to protecting the environment to attack a sector which has such a great record in this area. What was most jaw-dropping about the Greens’ manifesto was the party’s support for land-based closed containment for all salmon production in Scotland. Had the party looked even briefly at this subject they would have realised the ridiculousness of supporting a plan which would increase Scotland’s carbon footprint in a dramatic way. It takes as much energy to grow one single salmon to market weight in a land-based system as it does to run an average family home in Scotland for nine days. So moving millions and millions of fish from the sea to the land would use as much electricity as building millions more homes and heating them. Switching from marine production to landbased production is so clearly not a “green”
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solution but, incredibly, it is now the official policy of the Scottish Green Party. But there is more to the party’s contradictions than that. The Greens don’t like salmon farming, even though it has the lowest carbon footprint of any comparable livestock protein. The Greens don’t like farmraised salmon even though it is a healthy, nutritious, locally-sourced food and they want to move away from exports, even though it is precisely sectors like aquaculture which raise the money through exports that the Greens are so keen to spend. The Green approach is deeply troubling but it is, thankfully, not as important as the SNP one. The SNP manifesto has, we hope, given us a pretty good roadmap for the development of our sector, at least in regulatory terms, over the next parliamentary term. And, to be honest, it’s a pretty good one. Manifestos aren’t what they used to be but they still have a key role to play. If nothing else, the SNP document gives us something to point to and use to hold ministers to account and that is something we will make sure we do. Most people will forget about manifestos as soon as the campaign is over. We won’t, and we will make sure the SNP don’t either.. FF
BY NICKI HOLMYARD
Strategy versus reality How realistic are ambitions to turn Scotland – and the rest of the UK – into a producer of warm water species through land-based aquaculture?
n the run up to Sco�sh parliamentary elec�ons on 6 May it was never seriously in doubt that we would see the SNP con�nuing at the helm in Holyrood, whether as a majority party or as the dominant partner in a coali�on. There is no ques�on that the SNP supports aquaculture; it is clearly stated in the party’s manifesto: “Fish farming is something that Scotland is well placed to do well in, but it must grow sustainably, in harmony with the marine environment that supports it.” There is also a pledge of support for innova�on in aquaculture, including the development of closed containment ﬁsh produc�on on land, and exploring “the poten�al to produce more shellﬁsh in warm-water, land-based farms, to cut the amount of unsustainably produced ﬁsh and shellﬁsh being imported into Scotland.” These pledges build on the Aquaculture 2030 Strategy, published by Scotland Food and Drink a few years ago. This sets out a vision for aquaculture growth in Scotland, and iden�ﬁes key ac�ons required to double the economic contribu�on of the industry from £1.8bn in 2016, to £3.6bn by 2030. Included in the strategy is the need for greater research, development and innova�on (RD&I) in Scotland, to address the challenges faced by the aquaculture industry, such as climate change. Investment is called for to support growth and reﬂect the industry’s priori�es, which include a shi� to new produc�on models using exposed sites and on-shore ‘super-smolt’ facili�es. While the Sco�sh Aquaculture Strategy makes no speciﬁc men�on of
Nicki Holmyard.indd 30
warm water species, the English Aquaculture Strategy states: “Although current produc�on levels are very small, aquaculture is capable of producing warm-water species and other exo�c species such as �lapia and shrimp that are currently imported. This has the poten�al to grow, especially given changes in the trades and markets following the EU-Exit and COVID-19.” Future of the Sea: Trends in Aquaculture, by Professor K. Black and Dr A. Hughes (July 2017), is a review commissioned as part of the UK government’s Foresight Future of the Sea project. It acknowledges that aquaculture has grown in the last 40 years to be an important component of the UK seafood sector, with a produc�on value in excess of £590m to the UK economy, and that strong government support for the Sco�sh aquaculture industry has contributed to its growth and ongoing plans for expansion up to 2030. The authors iden�fy climate change, energy prices, government policy and social acceptance of aquaculture as key components in shaping how aquaculture develops in the next 50 years, and state: “There is signiﬁcant poten�al for aquaculture to further develop across the UK, especially in semi-contained recircula�ng aquaculture systems (RAS) on both land and sea, and in oﬀshore cage aquaculture.” The report introduces four development scenarios, and points out that because energy costs impact every aspect of the value chain, future ﬂuctua�ons are likely to have a very large inﬂuence on the way that aquaculture develops. As such, scenarios with a higher rela�ve energy cost, reﬂect higher feed, transporta�on, infrastructure and fabrica�on costs. “In broad terms it can be supposed that if rela�ve energy prices reduce, then those aquaculture produc�on systems which are energy intensive will become more economically viable and vice versa. RAS are highly energy-dependent.
Left: Tilapia feeding Opposite: Vannamei
shrimp (top); Fresh white leg shrimp in market
Strategy versus reality
For fish species that rely on feed like salmon, recirculation aquaculture will become more economically competitive in a cheaper energy world. Due to its environmental advantages, if energy becomes sufficiently cheap, then it is expected that RAS will rapidly increase.” The report also points out that expansion in RAS combined with cheaper energy costs would lead to a growth in the number of species cultured, with attendant development of high-value niche markets, probably based on warm-water exotic species such as shrimp. The UK currently produces a narrow range of aquaculture species, dominated by salmon, rainbow trout, mussels and oysters, but also including small volumes of Arctic charr and sturgeon, and increasing production of wrasse and lumpfish, which are bred for use in fish farms, to remove sea lice from salmon. The English Aquaculture Strategy predicts that small quantities of freshwater and saltwater exotic finfish and shellfish will gradually be introduced over the next 20 years, as production techniques improve. However, the question remains as to whether it will be economically feasible or environmentally attractive to produce them. To date, all attempts to grow exotic species such as barramundi and tilapia in the UK have failed to turn into viable commercial ventures, although there are a handful of micro-business aquaponic tilapia farms. Three-Sixty Aquaculture, based in Swansea Docks, now has advanced plans to turn its former wrasse production unit into a farm for sablefish
If relative energy prices reduce… “ aquaculture production systems which
are energy intensive will become more economically viable www.fishfarmermagazine.com
Nicki Holmyard.indd 31
(black cod), which are native to the Pacific. “Being a cold water species, the conditions here should be ideal for sablefish, and top chefs are excited by the prospect of having it grown in the UK, instead of importing from Canada,” said technical director Lee Tanner. The tropical shrimp species Litopenaeus vannamei, also known as the whiteleg shrimp or King prawn, is also a prime candidate for land-based production. UK consumers love eating prawns, and retail sales of all cold water and warm water prawns top 40,000 tonnes per year, with a value of more than £500m. A similar volume is sold through foodservice. Producing L. vannamei in the UK makes sense in terms of reducing the product’s air miles compared with importing them from far-flung countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador and Brazil, but there is a downside in that energy is required to heat the water to around 30oC for production. Disease has been one of the biggest challenges facing the global shrimp industry, with production almost wiped out in some years. It has also played a factor, along with Covid-19, in stopping production at two UK-based prawn producers over the past year, despite both companies changing their marketing strategies to target consumers direct. Great British Prawns (GBP) in Stirlingshire, Scotland, which used a clearwater filtration approach for its production. FloGro Fresh in Lincolnshire, England grew its prawns in a biofloc system, using bacteria, algae and other organisms to clean the water and provide food. Both companies were hailed as innovators and their products lauded by top chefs, but neither is currently operating. A Norwegian business aims to show the way, with a collaboration between Benchmark Genetics and the Happy Prawn Company, to raise L. vannamei post-larvae (PLs) imported from Florida. The shrimp are SPR, or specific pathogen resistant, with a documented high resistance to specific disease-causing viruses and bacteria, and are also certified as SPF, or specific pathogen free. Production is going well and there are already plans to scale up in a new production facility that will use surplus heat from dairy plant. Success for this venture might encourage imitators in the UK. FF
Organic Sea Harvest
A sense of place Alex MacInnes believes the link between farming and the community is hugely important BY ROBERT OUTRAM
cotland’s ﬁrst salmon farming start-up for some 30 years is set to see its ﬁrst harvest this month. Organic Sea Harvest (OSH) operates two sites on Skye, Invertote and Culnacnoc; it is not only Scotland’s ﬁrst independent salmon farmer in decades but also the country’s only farmer completely dedicated to only producing cer�ﬁed organic salmon in this sector. The route to the ﬁrst harvest has not been easy, however, as Alex Mac-
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Innes, a director and one of the farming partners, explains. MacInnes, who is also part of the team heading up the farming opera�ons at the company, says: “Our ﬁsh have performed well… it wasn’t an easy start for them. We had a lot of challenges – the perfect storm between regula�on, and Covid-19 – and we’ve done that at the Invertote site without some of the infrastructure [that we had planned] because Covid delayed everything. “We didn’t have a feed barge, for example. But we have some very experienced and capable staﬀ who were working without feed barges in their early careers and they are very knowledgeable about manually hand feeding the stock. There always has to be a plan B which for us in this case worked well and now everybody’s looking forward to harves�ng.” OSH has also run into planning permission setbacks over its next two proposed sites, which has been disappoin�ng for a business that has always set out, not only to produce ﬁsh with the highest standards of welfare and sustainability, but also to be an integral part of its local community. OSH was started as a business in 2016 but, MacInnes explains, the idea goes back at least 10 years.
Above: Birds eye view of invertote Left: Alex MacInnes Top right: Ove Thu Right: Organic Smolt
A sense of place
He says: “My colleagues and I all had the same ambition. We all believed that there was a lack of organic product out there globally, and there was certainly room for another player.” As well as Alex MacInnes, the directors in the management team are Robert Gray, who heads harvesting and processing, and Ove Thu, who is responsible for sales and marketing and is also CEO of Villa UK, which is a founding partner of OSH. Villa UK is itself a joint venture between Norway’s Villa Seafood Group, Visscher Seafood (based in the Netherlands) and the principals of Canadian firm Dom International. Skye was selected after a study to determine the best location for an organic site. OSH’s farms are located in deep, high-energy waters, and as MacInnes explains: “That has benefits. You can see that in our fish, they’re very lean – they don’t carry a lot of fat. They have a lot of muscle because they are always swimming, because of the continuous tidal conditions.” He adds: “We have excellent water quality at those sites and we have excellent, healthy fish.” The open waters off north east Skye have good dissolved oxygen levels, good salinity and stable temperatures, and the tides help to disseminate fish faeces, which mean the nutrients in them can be spread in a way that benefits the marine ecosystem. The company also operates a lower stocking density to conform with organic standards compared to most farms, with 10kg per cubic metre, adding up to a ratio of 0.1%-1% fish to water in the pens. OSH has been certified by the Soil Association, the UK’s leading body for organic credentials. This restricts the treatments and chemicals that are permitted for regular use although there are exceptions for special circumstances. OSH are also working towards other International organic standards and continue to work closely with the Soil Association on this. As MacInnes puts it: “Fish welfare will always come first. The stock must always be looked after, so
you cannot allow them to suffer. In the event that we were to find ourselves in that situation we would take the best advice with the Soil Association and our veterinary partners.” So far, OSH has been successful in using fresh water treatments, primarily as a preventive against gill disease, an innovative wash and soft brush mechanical system and cleaner fish as lice control, using farmed lumpfish and locally caught ballan wrasse. OSH are also about to introduce their first farmed ballan wrasse working in partnership with Otter Ferry Seafish which is another very exciting development for the business Soil Association certification also affects the feed OSH is allowed to use. The company has been working closely with its sole feed supplier, EWOS, which is part of the Cargill group. EWOS’s “Harmony” feed meets the Soil Association’s organic criteria and, MacInnes says: “It’s a diet that’s well proven and one that we see delivering well for us now that we have our stock in the sea.” MacInnes adds: “EWOS have an excellent understanding of the organic market, they have excellent people who are supportive, technically and professionally. We have regular meetings with them, we are assessing key performance indicators with them regularly and that’s hugely beneficial to us as a business.” Working in partnership with local suppliers is part of the OSH philosophy. Construction of the two sites, for example, was undertaken by Gael Force. This required careful preparation to cope with the demands of the farms’ location in the open seas off Skye. MacInnes explains: “You can’t just put your normal sea loch accredited equipment into high energy sites. Equipment for these sites is more robust, and larger. We had to be sure that the equipment on the farms could survive the environment we were going to be operating in, so we spent a lot of time assessing that, and speaking to a number of suppliers.
is a community that is, economically, on “theStaffin edge, but it’s got great strength in its culture ” www.fishfarmermagazine.com
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Organic Sea Harvest
“We built up a rela�onship with Gael Force – they successfully bid for the work – and the equipment has stood the test of �me in the 12 months that it has been in place.” Partnership has also been the theme for OSH’s rela�onship with Landcatch, which supplies smolts for OSH from its hatchery at Gairloch. MacInnes says: “The hatchery is being converted as we speak to meet the Soil Associa�on standards and it will be fully dedicated to Organic Sea Harvest. That’s a big commitment on Landcatch’s part and on our part. We have massive respect for each other.” MacInnes grew up on North Uist in the Western Isles and worked in the family business, which included one of the ﬁrst co�age industry type ﬁsh farms in Scotland. Now two of his sons are working with OSH, one full-�me and one part-�me. He believes strongly in the connec�on between businesses and the local community. One of the factors behind the choice of Staﬃn – in the north east of Skye – was the support from the local, close-knit community. He says: “We had a really good get-together and we met members of the community trust and the council. It was a kind of “lightbulb moment”. Staﬃn is a community that is, economically, on the edge, but it’s got great strength in its culture and a strong sense of community values. “The school roll was falling as it does in many fragile communi�es, as people move away. People within the trust wanted to hold on to their community, their culture and their Gaelic language.” For myself and for all my colleagues in the business this element of the journey is incredibly important in that we have to retain these strong and important values that we have been brought up with to respect at all �mes. For OSH: “We employ 12 direct staﬀ at the moment, and all of them are local. Some have children as well. We feel well established in the community now. There’s a great bond among the staﬀ there. It’s a happy place!” Despite that, not everyone on Skye is keen to see more ﬁsh farm sites and OSH has suﬀered two planning setbacks over the past few months. In order to be able to harvest all year round, and to be able leave sites fallow for a period as its organic strategy requires, OSH is looking to add two more sites oﬀ
Organic Sea Harvest.indd 34
Skye. Its proposals so far have been turned down, however. First, an applica�on for a site at Flodigarry was rejected by the local authority on the grounds that the farm would impact the Tro�ernish NSA (Na�onal Scenic Area) and Tro�ernish and Tianavaig SLA (Special Landscape Area). The appeal against that decision was not upheld by the Sco�sh Government’s planning appeals reporter, in November last year. Then in January, Highland Council’s North Planning Applica�on Commi�ee denied the request, for a ﬁsh farm at Balmaqueen in the north-east of the island, following a mo�on carried by eight votes to six. In both cases the s�cking point appears to have been the visual impact of the farms on an area popular with tourists. The company says the site would have released investments in excess of £4m, earmarked for salaries, equipment and stock. Consis�ng of 12 120-meter cages, the Balmaqueen site would have provided direct, full-�me employment for seven farm employees and two boat workers, taking the direct work force to 21 full-�me employees. MacInnes says: “It [Balmaqueen] had all its permissions and none of the statutory regulators and stakeholders were against our proposals. Unfortunately it didn’t make it through planning. “Where I live, we have a very diverse economy, and while I recognise the importance of tourism – and I understand that tourists like to take in the view, I’ve grown up with these views, I’ve lived all my life on the west coast next to the sea and I walk the hills and the coastal trails – at the end of the day you need a diverse economy and you cannot survive just on tourism. That’s been more apparent than ever before with the pandemic that we’ve unfortunately been through.” OSH is now formally appealing the Balmaqueen decision. The company recently received moral support from Stewart Graham, Managing Director with Gael Force, who wrote a strongly worded ar�cle comparing the opponents of an industry that is crea�ng employment on the west coast to the Highland Clearances, which saw the region emp�ed of people to make room for sheep farming. Graham wrote: “Like the Clearances, once again the welfare of the local people who work the land and the sea is being considered as secondary to the narrow interests of a minority, o�en not rooted in the area, who care not for the economic wellbeing of other local people.” Alex MacInnes is upbeat, however. He says: “We are a resilient bunch; there are some very good heads round the table, some very conﬁdent heads. We have a lot of trust and respect in each other and we will move on from here. “We have never set out to be the biggest organic farmer, we just want to be the best in respect of ﬁsh health and welfare, and quality of ﬁsh. We just want to do a really good job; we just want a fair crack at realising our ambi�ons and leaving a sustainable legacy for the next genera�on of organic ﬁsh farmers.” FF
Top left: OSH’s staﬀ are proud of the company’s organic status Left: Invertote Below: Stewart Graham
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opportunity SalMar came through 2020 with a solid performance and the company is now looking to invest in Scotland BY VINCE MCDONAGH
HE Norwegian salmon farming giant SalMar is planning signiﬁcant investment in its Sco�sh opera�ons through its jointly owned business, Sco�sh Sea Farms, president and CEO Gustav Witzøe has revealed. SalMar’s annual report, published last month, set out the company’s inten�ons to invest in the UK and Gustav Witzøe later told Fish Farmer magazine that this would be made through Sco�sh Sea Farms (SSF), which SalMar co-owns with Lerøy Seafood rather than as a solo venture. As the UK’s second largest salmon farmer, SSF has a turnover in excess of £100m, produces around 30,000 tonnes a year and employs 400 people throughout Scotland, Shetland and Orkney. SalMar said more informa�on on what is planned will be made available in the next few months. SalMar and Lerøy share equal ownership of the business. The SalMar chief was in cheerful mood throughout the report. “Who could have imagined that SalMar would emerge from this year of pandemic with results almost as good as the previous year?” he asked. SalMar harvested a total of 150,300 tonnes in Norway and 11,200 tonnes in Iceland in 2020, and the group generated gross opera�ng revenues of NOK 12.9 billion. It made an opera�onal EBIT of NOK 3 billion, a scant 2% down on 2019. He added: “We also aim to strengthen our global posi�on by farming ﬁsh in other countries whose waters are suitable for Atlan�c salmon, such as Iceland and Scotland. “Water covers 70% [of the earth], but only 3% cent of the food we eat
SalMar Report - Vince.indd 36
comes from the sea. It is hard to imagine that we can meet the world’s future need for food without making use of the ocean’s vast poten�al to produce more food. “In Asia, we are moving even closer to our customers by reinforcing our sales oﬃces, which are doing vital work as front-line ambassadors around the world.” The main body of the report also looked at some of the challenges facing aquaculture in the UK, saying: “Framework condi�ons for salmon farming in Scotland have remained rela�vely constant over several years. “The growing inﬂuence of special interests (NGOs, organised anglers, etc) has led to more challenging regula�ons than in Norway, which has in turn contributed to a higher level of costs (lower eﬃciency, smaller economies of scale).” It adds: “The Sco�sh authori�es have expressed the wish that the aquaculture sector will grow from its present output level of around 170,000 tonnes. “However, Brexit is crea�ng uncertainty about customs du�es and tariﬀs for Sco�sh salmon in the European market.” SalMar took a controlling interest in Arnarlax last year, now known as Icelandic Salmon AS, and has major plans for that business which operates in the Wes�jords region. But SalMar is predominantly a Norwegian company and best known for being behind the Ocean Farm 1, the world’s ﬁrst oﬀshore salmon farm, a project which it intends to develop further. Growth has been impressive, to say the least. From just a staﬀ of 11 and produc�on of 800 tonnes when it was founded 30 years ago, it now has 1,700 employees, expected annual output of 195,000 tonnes this year and bases in eight countries. CEO Witzøe said: “When the pandemic swept across the globe, you did not need to be an
SalMar came through the pandemic’s ﬁrst year far be�er than we feared
Ocean of opportunity
Above: The Ocean Farm 1
Left: Gustav Witzøe Below: Impression of InnovaNor processing centre (image: SalMar) Below left: Sco�sh Sea Farms
incurable pessimist to see that problems were moun�ng. “Some of the Norwegian salmon industry’s most important customers – hotels and restaurants – were shut down overnight. “Conferences and seminars were cancelled, and large por�ons of the travel industry went into forced hiberna�on. “With interna�onal borders prac�cally sealed and the majority of planes grounded, we had to adapt to what was a challenging logis�cs exercise for an industry whose very existence rests on delivering ﬁsh to all corners of the world. “Nevertheless, SalMar came through the pandemic’s ﬁrst year far be�er than we feared. This was made possible because everyone at all levels and in all parts of the supply chain worked superbly. “ “Last, but not least, our 1,700 employees demonstrated an outstanding willingness and capacity to adapt to the challenges and resolutely abide by the strict public health measures that the authori�es and the company itself imposed.” He said all SalMar’s opera�ons – either far oﬀshore or closer to land – are built on a common founda�on: the produc�on of ﬁsh under the best condi�ons, and being a leader in all areas of the value chain from broodﬁsh and smolt, to salmon stocks at sea farms, harves�ng, processing and sales. “We will seek sustainable growth and technological development at loca�ons where we are today, at more exposed sites in exis�ng produc�on areas and at oﬀshore ﬁsh farms opera�ng far out in the open ocean.” “But we must do so on an environmentally sustainable basis. Just as we ourselves stand on the shoulders of those who built this industry before us, so shall we help ensure the next genera�on has a secure pla�orm on which to con�nue building the sector and our coastal communi�es. He con�nued: “In my view, and that of SalMar, this exci�ng journey has only just started. We are therefore inves�ng billions of Norwegian kroner in our value chain to secure sustainable opera�ons and growth – on the salmon’s terms. “We con�nue to a�ach considerable importance to the produc�on of smolt, with major investments in the construc�on of new smolt facili�es in Senja and Tjuin. “We are inves�ng in new closed-containment technology and new coastal infrastructure. Our ﬂagship processing plant in Northern Norway – InnovaNor – is rapidly approaching comple�on. “It will be a great moment for us, for Senja as a seafood region, and for the aquaculture industry in Northern Norway, when the ﬁrst salmon are
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processed at the new facility in Finnsnes in 2021. We are con�nuing our ground-breaking work in the area of oﬀshore ﬁsh farming through our subsidiary SalMar Ocean. This includes the Ocean Farm 1 installa�on and the design and engineering of the Smart Fish Farm, which is des�ned for opera�on in the open ocean. “In addi�on, we are strengthening our interna�onal engagement, in Scotland and Iceland, for example.” FF
A new era in aquaculture The report says the establishment of salmon farming in the open ocean is an important part of SalMar’s strategy for sustainable growth. By taking place in the open ocean, it could enable increased output and value crea�on, encourage innova�on and the development of new technology, and provide economic beneﬁts for society as a whole. In 2020, SalMar completed the second produc�on cycle at the Ocean Farm 1 facility. This was SalMar’s ﬁrst oﬀshore ﬁsh farm. At the same �me, the company has developed and veriﬁed plans to expand oﬀshore opera�ons by building addi�onal facili�es. Development work has been undertaken in close consulta�on with research establishments, external partners and relevant authori�es. In January, the company submi�ed an applica�on for permission to produce salmon at a site in the Norwegian Sea, further out in the open ocean than any other ﬁsh farm currently in opera�on. The group’s oﬀshore ﬁsh farming endeavours have now been brought together in the subsidiary SalMar Ocean.
From tobacco to tilapia
On the shores of Lake Kariba, a family business has been farming tilapia for 38 years BY WILLIAM LESCHEN
eith Nicholson woke at 4am after a stormy night. There had been lightning over Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake, and he was concerned the storm might have affected the trip gear of the three-phase pumps which pump lake water to the lei pond supplying the farm. Sure enough, one had tripped from a power surge. He was able to quickly restore it and begin his day cleaning screens and first-feeding the fish. It was an unusual start to the day on a farm he had started building back in 1983. Keith began working in 1976 in Harare as a buyer for the tobacco industry in what was then Rhodesia, and is now Zimbabwe. By the early 1980s the country was changing, and a number of his friends involved in agriculture were leaving for countries like South Africa and Australia. In 1981, after getting married, Keith and his wife travelled to Canada for an exploratory holiday where they found “a wonderful country” but – for Keith – it was far too cold to settle! While there, however, they visited a trout farm which started Keith thinking about possibilities back home. In those days there was very little commercial tilapia aquaculture in Zimbabwe or across southern Africa. It was a species he knew little about. Pursuing the idea, Keith was advised to start by looking to rent or buy plots on vacant government land on the shores of Lake Kariba, which borders Zimbabwe and Zambia. In early 1982 Keith travelled the 365km from Harare on his motorbike to view the undeveloped scrubland by the lakeside. He found an 11-hectare lake frontage plot at Chawara, with a further 3.2 hectares inland, which fitted the bill. Following a protracted bureaucratic process including multiple visits to government offices in Harare and to Kariba council, by June 1983 Keith received a “rights to purchase land for fish farming” on an initial four-year lease. The business was named “Kariba Bream Farm”, “bream” being the term widely used across southern Africa to refer to tilapia.
From tobacco to tilapia
himself clearing and levelling the site. Then, often working from small photos of the Baobab Farm, in Kenya, he designed and then built the raceways, tanks and hatchery. The farm design allowed for convenient management and handling of the early fingerlings, and for the reuse of water and recycling of nutrients into two larger growout ponds. Fresh inflowing supply water was pumped from the lei pond close to the lake through a piped ring main along the side of the farm and back down the middle, joining to the main line within a few metres of the pumps. Using this design Keith found he could get good pressure to all valves on each of the growout ponds. The initial tank water was then reused into two growout ponds before going back to the lake. These two ponds consistently produced the highest tonnage per annum across the farm due to better exchange rates, water quality and fertilisation producing more constant green water. Water from all of the growout ponds then exited the farm via a central drain, reedbed, and finally through the local wetland. Over the years the Environmental Management Authority has monitored the quality of incoming and outflowing effluent water on a quarterly basis. Few people in Zimbabwe were involved in fish farming at that time. Larger companies like Rio Tinto and Rothmans tried in the 1980s with tilapia, but failed. Keith visited early pioneers Tim and Nicola Fuller at Chirundu Bream Farm, to share experiences and exchange knowledge.
Keith resigned his tobacco company job, his wife hers as a laboratory technician and they sold their house in Harare to start their new fish farming venture. The initial costs were substantial: buying a Massey Ferguson tractor, three-phase pumps and 770 metres of pipeline to draw water from the lake. The most costly expense was connecting an electricity supply from 2km away. This took most of their initial capital, so Keith and his wife also took on a range of temporary jobs to supplement cash flow and further construction in the early years. A feasibility study and surveyor’s report were carried out, but these did not persuade the bank manager to provide a loan. This was fairly indicative of challenges faced by entrepreneurial people across Zimbabwe in those times. Instead, the farm was financed stage by stage through part-time incomes and farm sales reinvested straight back into the business. FARM DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION Clearing and construction began in June 1983. Keith met Kenya-based aquaculture expert John Balarin in the same year, along with Ron Evans from Henderson’s Agriculture Research Station. He listened to their suggestions, sketching the design of the Bamburi hatchery on the back of a cigarette packet; he then put together a layout design for the new farm. This included 12m x 8m diameter Bamburi hatchery tanks, the first of six concrete raceways (6m x 1m X 0.5m), and 3 x 0.5-hectare ponds for growout constructed with the tractor and dam scoop. Most of the initial construction work Keith did
HATCHERY AND BROODSTOCK DEVELOPMENT INTO FINGERLING SALES For their first broodstock there were no Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia) available, so Keith brought in mortimeri and macrochir from the nearby Hendersons Research Station to produce a cross which was believed to perform better than the individual species. Growth rates with these fish were not great, however. In 1987 Keith met Roger Pullin (then with the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management) at a USAID conference who told him: “You won’t make any money unless you farm niloticus!” Keith applied to the ministry to import niloticus and through another local tilapia farmer (Bill Black at Mazunbuka) received his first niloticus which originated from Stirling University. In 1989 further niloticus strains from Lake Turkana, Kenya, were imported. Due to a large fingerling order Keith decided to change from the Bamburi hatchery system to using incubators, trays and “hapas” (fine mesh net enclosures normally used for breeding tilapia and ongrowing fry). He quickly modified his hatchery to use upturned water poultry drinkers which worked well as new incubators. By the early 1990s Keith turned to all-male tilapia production, following closely established written protocols from the US and south Asia. The result was average weights at harvest increasing and fewer smaller fish, which were harder to sell. When Lake Harvest (a fish farm operator, now part of the African Century Foods Group) first set up in the 1990s, the company used the original fish Keith had supplied to Cairns Foods, the original site owners, as broodstock. Keith also supplied them with further fish for itheir breeding programme. While growth and final harvest sizes from these stocks improved through the 1990s into 2000s, Keith was never 100% happy with the results. Between
there was very little commercial tilapia aquaculture in Zimbabwe
Above: Sunset over Lake Kariba Opposite left: Teresa Mukaro, pictured feeding the juvenile fish, has worked on the farm and hatchery for 24 years Left: Kariba Bream Farm sign
2008-2010, through Randall Brummett (then of WorldFish Centre), Lake Harvest reciprocated his earlier supply of broodstock from their own genetic improvement programme. Keith found these new fish performed well, with good growth rates. By 2013 the fingerlings market started to grow across Zimbabwe as more people became aware of the commercial potential of tilapia. Keith developed a customer base for fingerling sales to develop further farm incomes. By 2020 the hatchery was producing three million all-male and 300,000 mixed-sex fry/ fingerlings per annum to more than 200 customers all over Zimbabwe. Keith plans to continue with the farm’s own genetic improvement programme but has said he will take advice from Scottish-based genetics company Xelect on how best to further improve his existing stocks, and potentially on whether there will be a need to import new genetics. Above: Aerial view of Kariba Bream Farm Below: Elephants also live around Lake Kariba
FINDING FISH FEEDS In the early 1980s, livestock feed producers Agrifoods and National Foods were the first feed used on the farm alongside trucked-in local slaughterhouse waste. Following formulations from John Balarin, Keith bought a pelletiser and for a few years they made their own on-farm (sinking) feed (around 30 tonnes per annum) using locally sourced maize, wheat bran, soya, cottonseed/sunflower seed cake, blood, meat and bone meal, and fish meal. This produced
You won’t make any “money unless you farm niloticus! ”
mixed results but at least the farm covered its costs. By the early 2000s, access to raw materials was more difficult, with – for example – the supply of maize controlled by government. The time, resources and labour required to produce the feed was also a challenge, and the farm was outgrowing its own supply. Keith started looking elsewhere for alternatives, and found a local crocodile farm which bought in dried feed from South Africa with a high percentage of crude protein including frozen mackerel, poultry meal, soya and premixed vitamins. Each day the crocodile farm cleaned up uneaten feed (in wet form) from the pens which was collected and then used at Kariba Bream Farm for growout tilapia in the ponds and raceways. Using this produced (algal) phytoplankton and zooplankton – which the tilapia fed on – in the ponds without the need to buy organic or inorganic fertilisers. By this time, following the inception of Lake Harvest, feed company Profeeds had been started. This allowed Keith to purchase more specialised fry/broodstock feeds suited to the hatchery. These were expensive but they were formulations of good quality, which not only increased growth and survival rates for the fry/fingerlings, but also fecundity and productivity from the farm’s broodfish. In Keith’s words: “This new feed turned trumps for tilapia production in Zimbabwe “. The farm continues to this day to use both the crocodile waste feed and Profeeds, a combination Keith believes has been a proven model for helping his farm to develop. Recently, international producers Skretting and Aller Aqua have both set up feed mills no more than 15km away across the Zambian border. Even
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so, the unstable Zimbabwean economy and resulting currency issues, Keith says, make short to medium term reliance on these options unlikely. He adds that in comparative pond trials, the crocodile feed and associated fertilisation consistently outperform bought-in pelleted feed for the 1-50g stage in pond growout. The feed must however be used within 24 hours of collection from the crocodile farm. Fingerlings are stocked from the hatchery at 1-5g, five per cubic metre in ponds and then grown over a five-month cycle to average harvest weights, currently 250g-350g each. Production is typically between 0.8-1.25kg per m³ (8.0-12.5 tonnes per hectare per cycle), two cycles per year: therefore around 16 tonnes or more per hectare per year, with the ponds after harvest limed and refilled ready for the next fingerling cycle. Keith says in general most of the ponds don’t have silting up/residue issues using this feed, with fish diseases not being too much of a problem over the years. He is well aware, however, of new threats from viruses and bacterial pathogens as aquaculture intensifies. The farm’s team also have to watch dissolved oxygen levels, especially during overcast days in the green ponds, and they now have aerators when necessary. Those feeding the fish must be careful and constantly vigilant at these times. DEVELOPING MARKETS In the early years the farm was, to a limited extent, competing with lake wild fish catches of larger sizes, however the farm’s smaller fish (100-150g mortimeri x machrochir cross) proved popular with housewives with limited incomes who could put one fish per person on their tables. According to Keith, the quality and freshness of fish emanating from the gill netters of Lake Kariba and thrown on the floors of dinghies was poor. As he puts it: “In those days, wild caught tilapia especially didn’t have
Above: Initial equipment was expensive but it served the farm well over the following years Left: The Kariba farm layout Below: A crocodile farm Opposite: Tilapia
a good name in wider Harare or other main town markets.” Keith set up a contract with a local food canning factory to take all of the farm’s production, selling the smaller fish at around $2 per kg. They were processed and sold, either pickled or with tomato paste, in 125g small cans, 3-4 fish per can, to Harare supermarkets, shops and other major centres. This relationship lasted until 1995 and the national Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, which meant that supermarkets were able to import much cheaper tinned mackerel and hake (at 70 cents per kg, half the price of farmed tilapia). Tilapia suddenly became much harder to sell and the local canning company closed this division. The farm had to adapt to survive and by this time was beginning to produce larger niloticus (250-350g) which were sold frozen in 10kg flatpack boxes and transported via a refrigerated truck and the local small airport. New markets opened up in the late 1990s in tourist hotels around Victoria Falls for frozen whole fish and fillets, also airline catering, with the remaining frames sold locally. In those days they got 27% dress-out weight to produce fillets. Into the 2000s other contracts came with local Kariba wholesalers Irvine and Johnstone, who bought whole and then gutted, then with Crest Distribution who also sold poultry, dairy, milk products, both to sell across Harare and other peri-urban markets. With better growth rates, farm management, genetics, feed, average sizes increased to the present day when the farm sells basically three sizes: 120g-250g (small fish for the local market); 250g-350g, the most popular and the majority of the farm’s production, for Harare and beyond; and fish above 350g which go to specialised buyers. Every Thursday the farm sends up to five tonnes of (mainly) the 250-350g fish to Harare, in a refrigerated truck. Most are then sold and consumed in the capital, however a
From tobacco to tilapia
proportion are resold then transported still frozen to other parts of Zimbabwe. In more recent years Keith has developed on-farm recreational angling and also small fish bait sales, which are popular with tourists, and pre-COVID these were providing a significant income stream. Whilst never competing with Lake Harvest, Keith says in the early days there was some friction. Over time as a company, however, Lake Harvest has raised market profile and sales prices of farmed tilapia across the country, and also brought quality fish feeds, and better genetics, which have benefitted fish farmers across Zimbabwe. LOOKING BACK….. AND INTO THE FUTURE Keith believes aquaculture is unlikely in future to grow significantly for others within the country. While he believes that many rural farmers are interested in making money from aquaculture, Zimbabweans are traditionally not big fish eaters. There has been little thought by government or others, Keith argues, into how and where to market the product. He adds: “We certainly could not compete pricewise in any of our neighbouring countries if we were to try and export. Feed costs are too high and there are few qualified/experienced people to give sound advice.” Keith remembers the early years and wishes to
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thank certain key people for their sound advice and support which saved him considerable time and money. John Balarin for his openness and designs from his Kenyan experiences; Roger Pullin for his advice on broodstock; and Ron Evans who guided him with great enthusiasm to start the farm and helped him persevere, in spite of times when excessive bureaucracy made him feel like packing in the whole idea. For the future of the farm he built and has run for 38 years, Keith says he is fortunate to have one of his sons, who also runs a safari business, now running the farm day-to-day and enjoying it. Keith says that in two to three years’ time he will step aside completely. What will he do then? He says: “I will stay on the farm, and I want to enjoy the local wildlife, pursue various hobbies, and also – Covid permitting – travel more widely.” FF
looking elsewhere… and found a local crocodile farm
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BY VINCE MCDONAGH
Machines are learning to identify individual ﬁsh out of thousands
f you believe all salmon have the same facial expression, then it could be �me to think again, according to new research. A recent study by SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organisa�ons, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), suggests it is possible to dis�nguish one face from another. They are basing their results on ar�ﬁcial intelligence (AI) technology which has helped them carry out much of the work. By adap�ng the type of exis�ng AI technology that recognises human faces, the researchers believe they can learn more about farmed ﬁsh and how they feel at a par�cular �me. Picking out 100 random salmon from a cage that contained more than 100,000 individuals, the iden�ﬁca�on success rate was just over 96, which is extremely high. NTNU research fellow and SINTEF researcher Bjørn Magnus Mathisen says it is diﬃcult to explain why the technology has been so accurate, but he has been working with machine learning and ar�ﬁcial intelligence for 10 years and it seems to work.
Face recognition - Vince.indd 44
He said: “We are not sure how they actually recognise the salmon, but we have a theory it is through the pigment spots on the face. They have a dis�nc�ve pigment, in the same way as with the cheetah or giraﬀe.” One of the things Mathisen found par�cularly interesting about the research is whether they can iden�fy the same salmon throughout their life cycle. He said: “I am really looking forward to tes�ng if this works on smolts and see if the machine is able to recognize the ﬁsh as it gets bigger. What adds a li�le to the mystery is that machines can also see things that humans do not, he suggests. In order to study the images of salmon taken by underwater cameras Mathisen uses a type of machine called a deep neural network which is modelled on the way cells in the brain are organised. A SINTEF report on his work says these neural networks are able to iden�fy animals, people and objects through sound and images in a way that was previously diﬃcult to do mathema�cally. SINTEF says: “You cannot tell a machine how to see the diﬀerence in each ﬁsh. Like us humans, it must learn by itself. Mathisen adds: “Methodologically, machines learn a bit in the same way as humans. We learn by seeing diﬀerences.” The research is also being supported by SINTEF’s aquaculture innova�on centre, SFI Exposed, and was started as a master’s project by Espen Meidell and Edvard Schreiner Sjøblom, supervised by Kers�n Bach, Håkon Måløy and Mathisen. To train the so�ware to iden�fy ﬁsh,
Above: Bjorn Mathisen Left: A Sco�sh salmon Top right: Salmon underwater
The future of fish farming A first-class RAS feed and an optimal feeding strategy are fundamental to the performance of both your fish and filter.
y sure this is going to be a “I’m pre� goldmine for biologists ”
the group had to carry out signiﬁcant manual work ﬁrst. The researchers were sent a video ﬁle with thousands of pictures of the salmon in a cage. Then the task of marking the ﬁsh heads by hand began, with 500 salmon heads manually iden�ﬁed and stored in a database. This collec�on taught the neural network to cut salmon heads from the images themselves, and in a short �me the network had done the same job thousands of �mes. The work also gave the team a new and larger database which was used to train new neural networks to recognise each individual salmon throughout the cage. Facial recogni�on is now becoming increasingly common in human commerce, but its use for applica�ons like law enforcement has led to intense ethical debates. Anders Bryhni, a business developer at SINTEF says: “By using facial recogni�on on ﬁsh we of course avoid such privacy-related issues. We are like everyone else, concerned with making good ethical assessment when we build a system based on ar�ﬁcial intelligence. “At the same �me, we want the business community in Norway to take advantage of the great opportuni�es that lie in technology as quickly as possible.” Mathisen says the system has a number of beneﬁts for aquaculture: “By learning more about each individual salmon, we get to know more about what makes them sick or why they are healthy and why they are happy or sad. The technology makes it possible to know with conﬁdence about how an individual salmon feels at a par�cular �me. He adds: “I’m pre�y sure this is going to be a goldmine for biologists. By following individuals through life we can ﬁnd even more about the ea�ng habits of ﬁsh, their social hierarchies, general welfare and their tendency to a�ract lice. “Also we do not have to take random samples by manual methods which are not only expensive and inaccurate, but are also harmful to the ﬁsh. “It can also create a new business model because if we know the life cycle of the ﬁsh it may be possible to diﬀeren�ate the price of a ﬁllet based on how a salmon lived.” FF
Face recognition - Vince.indd 45
European Aquaculture Society
AE20 couldn’t take place in Cork, but the online event was a success
he European Aquaculture Society’s 2020 Conference, “Creating an Optimal Environment”, postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, eventually took place in April 2021. Originally planned for Cork, Ireland, AE20 was held as an online event, the ﬁrst time the annual conference had taken place in this format. In another ﬁrst, AE20 also featured an extra day dedicated to recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), with sessions on disinfection; monitoring and autonomy in RAS; and challenging interactions between ﬁsh and the RAS environment. Herve Migaud of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, who co-chaired the ﬁrst RAS session and chaired the session in the main conference on innovation in the UK, comments: “There were a lot of topics. It is clear that there is a critical need for more research, and more standardisation, in RAS. We need to ﬁnd what works and what doesn’t work.” He notes that RAS technology has been improving, but there is a range of different technologies and we also need to better understand the interaction between ﬁsh, water, feed, staff and the protocols we are applying. He also argues that we need to focus on ﬁsh behaviour and welfare in RAS systems, not just on water quality. Migaud says: “We especially need more research on the impact of RAS on the ﬁsh, and on better automation. There is also a need for training, since not many people yet have the skills or experience needed for these systems.” The RAS day’s ﬁrst session, on disinfection, was moderated by Professor Jaap van Rijn, Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and included a presentation from Christopher Good, Director of Research of the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute in the USA. Session 2, “Where are we going with monitoring and autonomy?” was moderated by Øyvind Fylling-Jensen of Noﬁma, Norway and
EAS Cork Review.indd 46
need “We to ﬁnd
included an introductory presentation by Bard Skjelstad of ScaleAQ, Norway. He asked: “Why is more automation NOT happening, or happening faster? Automation is not about reducing staff. Is the market asking the wrong questions?” Session 3, on challenging interactions, was moderated by Damien Toner of Bord Lascaigh Mhara (BIM) Ireland and included an introductory presentation by Jelena Kolarevic, a senior research scientist at Noﬁma and Professor of RAS Biology at the University of Tromsø. Toner explained: “The four main actors in RAS are the system itself; the ﬁsh; the water; and - what’s quite often forgotten, the people that manage these systems.” She added that RAS is a relatively novel environment for aquaculture. It has well understood beneﬁts, but also challenges such as potential exposure to sublethal concentrations of toxic compounds, like ammonia; biologically active water; and artiﬁcial light. The presentations in all three sessions were followed by panel discussions. The programme for the main conference, over the next two days, covered a wide range of topics including disease prevention and treatment; IMTA and aquaponics; offshore aquaculture and multiuse of space; recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS); climate change; ﬁsh welfare; shellﬁsh; selective breeding; and the role of genomic research. There was also a session highlighting the role of ARCH in encouraging knowledge exchange and innovation in aquaculture in the UK.
what works and what doesn’t work
Joshua Lustracion Superio of Nord university, Norway. Maoxiao Peng’s project examined the impact of climate change and ocean acidiﬁcation on bivalve shellﬁsh growth, ﬁnding that a change in pH levels in seawater had an adverse effect on the formation of chitin for mussels, but not for oysters. Joshua Superio’s study examined spawning for European sea bass and found that the hormone GnRHa could improve spawning for broodstock. Herve Migaud pays tribute to all those who worked hard to make the conference a success: “It was the ﬁrst all-online for EAS. The intent was not to replace face to face meeting, but the platform worked really well and the chairs did a great job. A lot of people were involved!” Meanwhile, the organisers of Aquaculture Europe 2021 (AE2021) are conﬁdent that the event will be able to go ahead as an in-person conference in Madeira this October. AE2021 is scheduled to take place in Madeira on 4-7 October. While there had been concerns regarding the continuing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional government of Madeira has announced that events can be permitted, with 50% seating capacity. On this basis, the AE2121 organisers say, there is good reason to believe the conference can take place as planned. The organisers add: “Having also ﬁled a formal request to the Madeiran Health Authority, we strongly believe that whatever the ﬁnal format and capacity, the event can go ahead in Funchal.” The deadline for submission of abstracts for presentation AE2021 has been extended to 15 May (for abstracts that are posted online but not presented orally, the deadline is 28 August). AE2021 will be going The conference also saw the award of the Opposite: HerveMigaud ahead under the theme European Aquaculture Society’s prestigious (top); Øyvind Fylling“Oceans of Opportunity” Jensen (middle); EAS Spotlight Award. This award provided a and early registration ends Damien Toner (Bo�om) showcase for three students in the ﬁeld of This page: Clockwise from top aquaculture whose research was selected from on 15 July. Find out more at left: Jaap van Rijn; Daniel a long-list of more than 50 entrants. The short- aquaeas.org/Meeting/AE2021 FF Scicchitano; Joshua listed three presented a summary of their Superio; Madeira; research and ﬁndings as part of the online Maoxiao Peng; Bard conference, and the winner was selected by a Skjelstad vote of the conference attendees. The overall winner was Daniel Scicchitano, a PhD student at the University of Bologna, Italy, has won the European Aquaculture Society’s prestigious EAS Spotlight award. His project compared the effects of low and high lipid levels in the diet of gilthead sea bream, in particular looking at how this interacted with seasonal temperature changes. His study concluded that low dietary lipid levels should be preferred during seasonal temperature changes, in order to optimise feed utilisation and ﬁsh welfare. The shortlisted runners up were Maoxiao Peng of the University of Algarve, Portugal, and
EAS Cork Review.indd 47
Islands at war
The Federal government, fish farmers and First Nations are at loggerheads over salmon BY ROBERT OUTRAM
he reprieve granted to Mowi and another producer, Saltstream, by a Canadian Federal court over the Discovery Islands, may not be as much of a victory as it first looked. Mowi had brought an injunction against Bernadette Jordan, Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans Minister, over her ban on restocking the company’s two sites in the Discovery Islands region of British Columbia with smolts. In December, Jordan surprised the industry with an order that all open net fish farms in the Discovery Islands – the region is also known as the Campbell river – must close by the end June 2022. This is being contested by the industry and is expected to come to court later this summer, but in the meantime Mowi had also contested the ban on restocking, arguing that it had been given no notice and would have to destroy 1.2 million juvenile fish that would have nowhere to go. As reported last month, Federal Justice Peter George Pamel found in favour of the farmers. He ruled: “The harm to Mowi and Saltstream, as well as their employees, their families and other businesses in the community, in particular First Nations businesses, will be real and substantial if the injunction is not granted, and if Mowi and Saltstream are not permitted to proceed with the transfer of fish they require to undertake as part of their operations.” Dean Dobrinsky, HR and Communications Director, Mowi Canada
West said following the federal court ruling: “This is a great relief to our employees and communities as it should allow us - in the short term - to continue growing these fish and operating these two sites.” The same federal court has also granted a similar injunction to Saltstream, a smaller business and which mainly breeds Chinook rather than Atlantic salmon. SeaWest News, however, reports that Bernadette Jordan has required that Mowi will have to reapply for permission to transfer stock to its Philips Arm site and further, that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has also increased its service standard for such applications from the current 20 days to 40 days, meaning that any denial or approval for the transfer of salmon smolts to be grown to harvest size at Phillips Arm might only come in June. Since Mowi reportedly needed to transfer up
What “is clear…
is that a substantial number of jobs will be lost in Surrey
Islands at war
from the Conserva�on Coali�on, which represents an�-salmon farming ac�vists. Meanwhile BC Salmon Farmers are ﬁgh�ng back in the informa�on war. The Associa�on’s ‘Deeper Dive’ website (bcsalmonfarmers.ca/deeperdive/) takes on what it sees as misinforma�on. For example on sea lice and the threat they pose to wild salmon during their out-migra�on season, the Associa�on says sea lice numbers are generally well controlled during the out-migra�on period (when the salmon head out to sea) and quotes DFO Minister Wilkinson (in 2019) who said: “During most years, more than 90 per cent of BC farm sites have been below the regulatory sea lice threshold during the wild salmon out-migra�on period.” The Associa�on also held a “digital town hall mee�ng” online on 6 May to present the salmon industry’s perspec�ve, and people employed in the industry have been wri�ng to Canada’s Prime Minister Jus�n Trudeau and other poli�cal ﬁgures. The Associa�on commissioned economics consultants RIAS to es�mate the impact of the Discovery Islands farm closures. RIAS carried out two studies. As reported in Fish Farmer’s March issue, the ﬁrst report es�mated that the Discovery Islands shutdown will put 1,535 jobs at risk and the state’s economy will take a hit of CAN $139.1m. The jobs at risk include at least 690 people directly employed at farms, together with an addi�onal 630 jobs aﬀected among the 260-plus suppliers to the industry, and a further 200 at local businesses aﬀected by the reduc�on in the local economy. Salmon farming companies are expected to lose CAN $200m in ongoing annual revenue and Bri�sh Columbia’s GDP will shrink by an es�mated CAN $139.1m, the researchers say. They also expect the government to lose CAN $21.5m in annual tax revenue. As many as 10.7m salmon already in produc�on will need to be destroyed, the report adds. The second RIAS study, published in April, examined the impact on Surrey, a city in Bri�sh Columbia which is a key centre for the ﬁsh processing and related industries. The consultants’ report says for Surrey alone, salmon farming contributes (in Canadian dollars): $220m in annual revenue; $46m in GDP; 344 jobs (full-�me equivalent); and $24m in annual salaries. In total, Surrey’s salmon farming hub generates more than $363m for the province of Bri�sh Columbia, and 1,189 full-�me jobs. The farms due for closure account for 24% of total salmon produc�on
to 600,000 salmon smolts by May 15, that could be too late. As well as taking veterinary advice into acTop left: Bernade�e count as is usual, the DFO has indicated that the Jordan Left: Workers on gu�ng Discovery Islands First Na�ons will be consulted and any objec�ons, including “social or cultural” line Above: The First Na�ons will be taken into considera�on. SeaWest News also quoted from an aﬃdavit adver�sement from Chief Steven Dick of the Kwiakah First NaRight: Jus�n Trudeau �on, to the eﬀect that had been calling for the farms to close, they were happy to allow Mowi to take the Philips Arm farm through one more cycle before returning it to Kwiakah ownership. In fact, the court did not accept the First Na�ons’ submission, although it did take evidence
I get ques�ons every “ day from my team asking about the future ” This is not the ﬁrst �me that First Na�ons leaders have clashed with salmon farmers; but previously, in a process handled by the province of Bri�sh Columbia rather than the federal government, the conﬂict was handled less dras�cally. The earlier dispute concerned farms in the Broughton Archipelago on the southern coast of Bri�sh Columbia, and In 2018, through the “Broughton process,” the province tabled a consulta�on with local First Na�ons and the ﬁsh farmers before arriving at a plan to gradually phase out 17 open-net pens in the Broughton Archipelago by 2023. The plan allowed seven of the 17 sites to con�nue opera�ons if the operators could reach agreement with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, ‘Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Na�ons, a�er scien�ﬁc monitoring of the impact of parasite and disease transmission between farms and migra�ng salmon. It is s�ll possible, however, that the remaining seven farms could in Bri�sh Columbia, the report notes. be required to close. Report author Doug Blair, President of RIAS, said: “The report very Meanwhile, regions of the Paciﬁc coast where likely underes�mates the impact of salmon farming in Surrey. It doesn’t there are no ﬁsh farms con�nue to see serious account for the likelihood that the impact in Surrey will be outsized as the declines in the wild salmon popula�on, raising salmon farming industry faces a 24 per cent decline in produc�on, it will the ques�on of whether other factors may be be forced to consolidate processing opera�ons on Vancouver Island to at the heart of the problem. Further down the maintain economies of scale. What is clear, however, is that a substan�al coast in the US, The Washington State Recreanumber of jobs will be lost in Surrey as salmon farmers a�empt to adapt �on and Conserva�on Oﬃce published a report to the impacts of the federal Liberal’s Discovery Islands decision over the in January this year which found that salmon next year.” popula�ons in a number of areas – like Puget The report says that it is not yet known how many of the 344 people in Sound and the Upper Columbia River – were “in Surrey will lose their jobs, as it is yet too early to determine speciﬁcally crisis”. The report suggested that toxins enterhow companies will manage the impacts of losing a quarter of all producing the rivers as a result of runoﬀ from storms �on in the province over the next year. may be partly to blame. However, the authors note “…we heard anecdotally that layoﬀs have Even if Canada’s federal government succeeds already begun at opera�ons in Surrey, with one processing plant reducing in shu�ng down the Discovery Islands farms, most employees to two or three shi�s a week rather than ﬁve as an interthere is no guarantee that the First Na�ons will im measure… what can be said with conﬁdence is that this decision puts see their salmon come back. FF those 344 jobs in Surrey at signiﬁcant risk, and that we will have a be�er sense of the actual impact in the coming months.” Nav Nijjer, Owner, Shoreside Workforce said: “This decision happened so fast; it’s already star�ng to impact my people working in ﬁsh processing. I think the biggest thing for us is the uncertainty that it brings for our Surrey workers. We haven’t been given any informa�on and now my people are le� wondering if they’ll have a job in a few months.” Ravi Jouhal, General Manager, SureCold Refrigerated Storage also commented: “Everyone’s concerned. I get ques�ons every day from my team asking about the future. I don’t have answers, we don’t know what’s going to happen. I was born and raised here in Surrey and knowing how important the salmon farming sector is to our community makes this situa�on that much tougher.” Opppnents of the farms have not let either, however, ac�vely taking to social media and sharing images of salmon infested with sea lice. The First Na�ons Leadership Council took out a full page adver�sement in the Globe and Mail on 1 May to say “Our gra�tude runs deep” over the decision to close the Discovery Islands farms.
Top left: Orca in the Campbell River Below: Campbell River, Vancouver Island
Promek’s workboats are built for tough conditions
orwegian company PROMEK AS has been delivering workboats for the ﬁsh farming industry in the global market since 2001. The company has been building customised aluminium boats – more than 200, to date – for customers large and small along the Norwegian coast and abroad since 1992. All engineering, procurement, production and testing is carried out in-house and they can say that all their boats are “Handmade in Smøla, Norway”. Their goal has always been to preserve the traditions and competence they have built up, but at the same time get the best from relevant modern technology. At the end of April, they were proud to deliver a new vessel, the “Mowi Challenger” and at the end of May they will deliver the “Mowi Fighter”, both to Mowi Scotland Ltd. The new vessels are both PROCAT 1580F models, developed with and for customers who operate in harsh conditions or want more interior space. PROMEK would like to thank Mowi for the order and is proud that the world’s largest company in ﬁsh farming has chosen them as a supplier. “We wish the new owner all the best and we are conﬁdent the new boats will deliver what Mowi expects.” www.promek.no
Above: Promek Norway Right: Promek Hull 215 Mowi Challenger
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innovation and funding
Funding the future Innovation and R&D are essential for aquaculture, but they need ﬁnance BY SANDY NEIL
i�y years ago in 1970, oﬀ the island of Hitra in Norway two brothers, Ove and Sivert Grøntvedt, put 20,000 Atlan�c salmon smolts into large ﬂoa�ng octagonal cages they had designed and built. Their innova�ve cage design – inexpensive, strong, and simple to assemble – made it easier to feed the salmon, and created a barrier against predators. It became the world’s ﬁrst successful salmon farm, and a founda�on of Norway’s aquaculture industry. In 1971, Norway exported 886 tonnes of salmon; last year it reached a record 1.1 million tonnes. Today 14 million meals of Norwegian salmon are eaten daily worldwide. Fish farming has come a long way since it began, when it was simply pens in the ocean. Today salmon aquaculture is one of the most technologically advanced farming systems in the world. From the design of the pens, to their loca�on, to how the ﬁsh are fed and handled, salmon aquaculture is a science based on decades of knowledge and precision, and the industry con�nues to build on experience to further reﬁne the farming process for the beneﬁt of the ﬁsh, the environment and the consumer. Innova�ons come through many avenues—scien�ﬁc research, novel materials, and ﬂoat and net technologies. The salmon farming industry has led many breakthroughs, evidence that when there’s money to be made by crea�ng and marke�ng a high-end product, investments in technology tend to follow. In the last ﬁ�y years, many other innova�ons radically transformed the produc�on process in salmon aquaculture, in breeding, water recircula�on, and telemetry. What might the next revolu�onary innova�on be? And, when some bright spark has a brilliant idea, how easily can it be turned into reality? First, what is currently driving technological innova�on in aquaculture? Fish supplies 17% of all the protein consumed in the world, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisa�on. By 2030, the world is expected to eat 20% more ﬁsh than in 2016. Aquaculture will play a key role in taking pressure oﬀ our oceans, but it also needs to tackle its own environmental challenges,
INTRO Innovation & Funding - Sandy.indd 52
like the impact of farms on the marine ecosystem and the industry’s use of wild-caught ﬁsh to feed farmed ﬁsh. More outside-the-sea-cage thinking will be required to move the industry forward into its next era. In the words of one of America’s greatest innovators Thomas Edison: “There’s a be�er way to do it – ﬁnd it.” One solu�on is ﬁsh farming oﬀshore. As salmon farms move deeper into the high seas, they require increasing autonomy, using high deﬁni�on cameras and submerged automa�c feeders, to reduce the need for human travel to and from the cages. In 2017, Norwegian company SalMar began opera�ng Ocean Farm 1, which it called the world’s ﬁrst oﬀshore ﬁsh farm. The pilot facility—68 meters high and 110 meters wide—was ﬁ�ed with 20,000 sensors for monitoring and feeding up to 1.5 million Atlan�c salmon. Cage design is also being improved. In Norway, SeaFarming Systems based in Stavanger is developing the “Aquatraz” cage, which oﬀers a high level of security and pollu�on control through its hard shell conﬁgura�on. In Scotland in 2021, Inverness-based SME Aqua Innova�on secured funding via the UK Seafood
The world “will need a lot more healthy and nutri�ous food with the lowest possible impact
Photo: Steinar Johansen MNH
Funding the future
a health journal for each ﬁsh. In 2020, Norway-based Cermaq launched its Innova�on Fund to design the “SeaCAP 6000” – a $63.7m iFarm project with the goal of monitoring not just an en�re new ﬂoa�ng, contained 6,000m3 pen to cage of salmon, but each individual ﬁsh. grow salmon smolts to full harvest Harald Takle, Cemaq’s head of research and innova�on, weight. Rodger Taylor, the inventor explained: “In today’s salmon farms we manage all the ﬁsh of the SeaCAP, said: “Although in a pen the same way. This means that if some ﬁsh in a pen signiﬁcant progress has been made have sea lice, all ﬁsh are treated. The ﬁsh are stressed by the in recent years, current salmon treatment and we treat far too many ﬁsh. farming s�ll encounters various “iFarm uses digital recogni�on of the ﬁsh. This allows us to challenges associated with ‘open monitor factors including growth, sea lice, disease, lesions and water’ produc�on, related to water other aspects that aﬀect the health and welfare of the individual quality, environmental pollu�on, and ﬁ sh. In addi�on, it is possible to separate healthy ﬁsh from the ﬁsh ﬁsh escapes. The unsecured perimeters that need treatment, for example against sea lice. Thus, the extent of current produc�on systems also make the of sea lice treatment will be drama�cally reduced. In addi�on, salmon vulnerable to disease, algae, sea mortali�es in produc�on will be reduced by 50–75%. The lice, jellyﬁsh and predators. We believe digitalisa�on will also provide authori�es with real-�me data the SeaCAP has the poten�al to of the status of all the ﬁsh.” transform both Sco�sh and global Increasing automa�on is also found in hatcheries. For salmon produc�on.” example Alvestad Marin’s AutoTend robo�c system uses Fish farmers are also moving pens machine vision and learning to iden�fy dead eggs and fry, onto shore. This year Grieg Seaand remove them, without human interven�on. food became the ﬁrst global salmon The circular economy aims to redeﬁne growth, focusing on producer to invest in land-based salmon using resources for as long as possible, to extract the maximum farming. The venture, Årdal Aqua, will provalue and reduce waste. In the Faroes in 2018, Bakkafrost invested in duce post-smolt and rear salmon to harvest size in a new land-based facility in Rogaland, Norway. “What we know for sure is that the world will need a lot more healthy and nutri�ous food with the lowest possible impact,” said Andreas Kvame, CEO of Grieg Seafood and Chair of Årdal Aqua. “For a long �me, we have invested in post-smolt, where we keep the ﬁsh longer on land before we release it into the sea, as an important part of the solu�on. With Årdal Aqua we will be able to develop this farming method further. We aim for all of our ﬁsh in Rogaland to spend less than one year in the sea.” The company aims to start construc�on in autumn this year, with an eventual produc�on capacity of 5,000 tonnes annually. Sensors and data-derived services are targe�ng farm eﬃciency. One such new technology provides
INTRO Innovation & Funding - Sandy.indd 53
Opposite: The iFarm (top),
SME Aqua Innova�on’s SeaCAP 6000 Above: Aquatraz-g3-008 Left: Andreas Kvame (top); Regin Jacobsen Below: Ocean Farm 1
innovation and funding
the islands’ ﬁrst biogas plant, which will convert up to 90,000–100,000 tonnes annually of all waste from salmon and dairy farms. Bakkafrost’s CEO Regin Jacobsen explained: “This will provide enough renewable heat for 400 homes and electricity for 1,900 homes. This is projected to save 11,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and produce 40,000–45,000 tonnes of natural liquid fer�liser annually.” Given the expected growth of the farmed salmon industry, it is impera�ve that alterna�ve feed sources are found to reduce the dependency on wild stocks. Improving the feed conversion ra�o (FCR) – the amount of feed needed to increase an animal’s bodyweight by one kilogram – is not just about looking at the feed ingredients, but also gene�cs, the environment (temperature, oxygen and light) and ﬁsh husbandry. So far the salmon farming industry has reduced its FCR from 1.9:1 in the 1980s to 1.15:1 on average today, making it one of the most eﬃcient sources of protein available. The industry has also been looking for innova�ve alterna�ve ingredients that include fa�y omega-3 acids (EPA and DHA), without relying solely on ﬁsh oil. US feed giant Cargill is helping to develop many novel sources, such as algal oils, canola, insect meal, and Calysta’s FeedKind protein material, a sustainable ingredient made from fermenta�on of methane gas. In the UK, Deep Branch has developed a low carbon animal feed with a nutri�onal proﬁle comparable with ﬁshmeal, by using microbes to convert CO2 from industrial emissions into a new type of single-cell protein called Proton. Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch, said: “In the UK, and in Europe, poultry and farmed ﬁsh are usually fed on ﬁshmeal and soy, which is mainly imported from South America and has a huge environmental impact. We are developing a new, sustainable way of producing animal feed, which reduces CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent, compared to the currently used protein sources.” Innova�on needs three key ingredients: the knowledge to create it, the money to fund it, and the infrastructure to implement it. Of these, perhaps the biggest barrier facing innovators is ﬁnding funding. On hand to help are many private investors, such as Aqua-Spark, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The company aims to develop an “op�mal aquaculture food system by inves�ng in companies all along the aquaculture value chain working to solve industry challenges, with a shared vision of a sustainable future”. Among Aqua-Spark’s investments are Sogn Aqua, Calysta, Ace Aquatec,
INTRO Innovation & Funding - Sandy.indd 54
Top: Ardal Aqua impression Above: Heather Jones Opposite: Sco�sh Salmon Company salmon pens
Swedish Algae Factory, Molofeed, Bioﬁshency, Energaia, Fisher Piscicultura, CageEye, Pro�x and XpertSea. Hatch Blue, a start-up accelerator focused on the aquaculture industry, also oﬀers funding and business support for talented aquaculture start-ups. A�er three years in opera�on, Hatch has invested in 38 companies, run three successful cohorts, and raised its ﬁrst $8m fund. Green bonds, also referred to as climate bonds, raise funds for new and exis�ng projects which deliver environmental beneﬁts and a more sustainable economy. The green bond market has seen exponen�al growth, reaching its most substan�al milestone yet in December 2020, with $1 trillion in cumula�ve issuance since market incep�on in 2007. Then there are the public bodies such as Innovate UK, funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. Since 2007, this organiza�on has invested around £2.5bn to help businesses across the country to innovate, with match funding from industry taking the total value of projects above £4.3bn. It has helped 8,500 organisa�ons create around 70,000 jobs and, Inniovate UK says, added an es�mated £18bn of value to the UK economy. Another funder is the Sustainable Aquaculture Innova�on Centre (SAIC), which “acts as a link between industry and academia, bringing together consor�a of interested par�es to collaborate on some of these big challenges.” To date, SAIC has invested around £5.4m into collabora�ve research, and helped fund and run 32 collabora�ve research projects. “We recently announced funding for eight new projects – valued at £2.2m – to support sustainable development,” the SAIC’s CEO Heather Jones told Fish Farmer. “Digi�sa�on will lead to greater access to data which can aid farm management by providing real-�me informa�on about variables such as
Funding the future site condi�ons and ﬁsh performance. We are also suppor�ng a suite of projects targe�ng improved ﬁsh health and welfare, including rapid diagnos�cs and tools to iden�fy how nutri�on can boost immunity and resistance to disease. “Research will cover everything from breathing challenges of ﬁsh (complex gill disease), improved control of sea lice via biological solu�ons through the use of cleaner ﬁsh, and the use of novel engineering systems such as snorkel nets. We are also looking at shellﬁsh, with projects to support mussel farmers to increase returns by iden�fying the causes of shell damage and biofouling. “Climate change is an unavoidable context for the sector and all of the innova�on projects we are suppor�ng are underpinned by sustainability. For instance, researchers are looking at novel feed solu�ons through joint projects with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council that will reduce the reliance on imported ﬁshmeal. Addi�onally, aligned with the Farmed Fish Health Framework, we are helping to iden�fy future research op�ons that will help trout, salmon and shellﬁsh farmers to be be�er informed about the presence of harmful algal blooms.” Is there enough funding for research and development in the aquaculture sector? “The industry itself is strongly commi�ed to reinves�ng funds into research and development, and there are many examples of that happening without public subsidy,” she says. “However, there are a number of global challenges that dwarf the capacity of any single organisa�on to try and tackle these alone.” Jones adds: “SAIC aims to make our own funding applica�on process easy to understand and engage with. Our team of aquaculture innova�on managers are readily available to oﬀer guidance and support to applicants or poten�al applicants, at any �me in the funding cycle. “However, our funding criteria will not suit all projects, which is why we oﬀer advice on other funding opportuni�es and how to access them – whether from Europe, the UK’s Seafood Innova�on Fund, or other grants available across Scotland such as from the Marine Scotland Fund, Zero Waste Scotland and the Sco�sh Government’s Climate Challenge Fund. Our advisory support recognises that, with the plethora of other grant schemes in existence, naviga�ng through to the best op�on can feel daun�ng, especially for ﬁrst-�me applicants.” Has Brexit made innova�on harder or easier? Following the UK-EU referendum, the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), a pool of marine research talent with more than 750 researchers and resources of over £66 million annually, advised its members to “keep calm and carry on”. At last, the scien�sts may have an answer, as explained by the Royal Society: “The EU-UK Trade and Coopera�on Agreement and accompanying legal texts allow the UK to par�cipate in the ninth EU Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, as an associated country. This gives UK based researchers access to the European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Ac�ons, grant funding from the European Innova�on Council, as well as the right to par�cipate in and lead consor�a with EU and interna�onal partners.”
The spirit of innova�on is alive in Scotland. A new Sco�sh Marine Technology Park on the banks of the Clyde, consis�ng of 50 acres with its own deep water, heavy li� berth, aims to boost the river’s tradi�onal strengths in shipping, shipbuilding and marine engineering, while fostering new sectors to breathe life into the currently derelict area. “This innova�ve facility oﬀers a common marine facility, with opportuni�es across marine manufacture, ship repair, renewables, marine electrical and marine service provision,” its brochure explains. “Together, this will form an impressive cluster, enabling like-minded, complimentary companies to thrive on a common, innova�ve space.” The park is expected to support 615 construc�on jobs, 750 marine manufacturing roles and 305 retail and oﬃce based posi�ons, contribu�ng £65.5m to the city economy each year. Let’s hope it will be ﬁlled with innovators. FF
There are a number of global challenges that dwarf the capacity of any single organisa�on
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INTRO Innovation & Funding - Sandy.indd 55
2020-10-29 9:27 AM
Fish handling and harvesting
Proper and humane harvesting protocols are in the interest of animal welfare and make good business sense, too
onald Buchanan is Head of Processing with Scottish Sea Farms (SSF). He oversees the company’s two processing and packing centres: Scalloway, which receives fish from SSF’s Shetland and Orkney farms; and South Shian near Oban, which processes fish from the company’s mainland farms. The two facilities employ around a third of the company’s workforce in Scotland and handle the process from harvesting through gutting to packing. Buchanan says there are three key issues for the processing operations: fish welfare, microbiology and temperature management. For some time he had been looking for a better approach to harvesting. Automated percussive stunning, which is widely used in the sector, has many advantages but some challenges too, including the need to handle fish of different sizes. For Atlantic salmon, if the average is 5kg, a number of individuals could easily be 3kg or 7kg. Buchanan says: “Percussive stunning works well on Atlantic salmon of up to 7kg, but once fish grow to 8kg or above the system can become less effective, requiring increased secondary stunning.” As a farmer used to growing large fish, SSF wanted to explore an alternative method, asking aquaculture technology company Ace Aquatec to look at electrical stunning as an alternative. Using an electrical field to stun fish is not new, however the field needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid distress or damage to the fish. The system, developed in partnership with SSF, employs a three-step process that includes Ace Aquatec’s Humane Stunner Universal. Harvest-sized fish are transferred from the pens via wellboat to the processing centre. In the boat, oxygen and temperature levels are monitored and the fish are kept in seawater at a low enough temperature to reduce
INTRO Fish Handling & Slaughteringindd.indd 56
stress and ensure they are near-torpid. SSF was the first in the Scottish sector to develop a “swim-ashore” system, in which the fish swim into the harvest station via pipes before being dewatered into a closed-loop pipe where they are rendered insensible using an electrical field in the water, without harming them physically. Some electrical stunning methods use a “dry stun”, where the fish is taken out of the water and stunned on a moving conveyor, but Buchanan explains: “We opted for the ‘wet’ type where the fish are effectively anaesthetised in their own environment.” The unconscious fish are fed manually into an integrated percussive stunner and bleeder machine. This is the second step in the process, the point at which the main artery is cut and the means of slaughter while the fish are unconscious. To prevent any undue suffering and ensure full coverage, trained operatives look out for visual confirmation of effective stun and bleed, and will carry out a secondary percussive stun and bleed, if necessary, on a slow-moving conveyor. Buchanan says: “It is essential that sufficient time is given immediately after stunning and bleeding for operatives to ensure this process has been carried out exactly.” The slaughtered fish are then transferred to chilled management systems. Oversight of the harvest process is crucial.
Our “ priority is
to deliver the highest standards of fish welfare
Handle with care
At SSF, Buchanan says: “All of our staﬀ are welfare-trained and we have a welfare oﬃcer there all the �me – this person reports directly to the quality management team rather than processing. “We have also developed so�ware that gives the staﬀ and management immediate access to real-�me repor�ng of how well the harvest is running and the stunning equipment is performing. “At the same �me, there is 24 hour CCTV monitoring which we retain for three months, regularly carrying out inspec�ons of the footage.” In addi�on, Sco�sh salmon farmers are subject to announced and unannounced audits from customers and regulators, with external auditors able to see the videos and pick footage from any �me and date to look at. This means that the dis�nc�on between “announced” and “unannounced” visits – which cri�cs of the
INTRO Fish Handling & Slaughteringindd.indd 57
industry have focused on – is less important, since even in a scheduled visit there is no predic�ng which �me and date the auditors will choose to examine. Buchanan says: “We are comfortable with that.” When ﬁsh are harvested from pens at sea there is also by-catch to deal with in the form of wild ﬁsh that have swum into the pens. For SSF, this is par�cularly an issue for the abundant waters oﬀ Shetland, where ﬁsh like pollock can turn up in large numbers. The processing centre at Scalloway has a secondary system for smaller ﬁsh, which are sorted by size from the larger salmon, and diverted via a chute to a stun-kill system. The welfare of the bycatch is every bit as important as that of the salmon, Buchanan stresses: “Our priority is to deliver the highest standards of ﬁsh welfare, regardless of species.” The latest welfare-oriented ini�a�ve is an app, created by a member of the SSF processing team, that feeds back data collected from the harvesting equipment to the wellboat. This gives the wellboat an accurate ﬁsh per minute ﬂow measurement which, in turn, enables them to deliver a controlled and consistent amount of ﬁsh to harves�ng, which is crucial to good welfare. This advance, which reduces the �me out of water, is part of Sco�sh Sea Farms’ decade long journey towards more humane treatment of farmed livestock during slaughter. But it is not the end of the road, Buchanan says: “I genuinely believe that, with regards to ﬁsh welfare, our approach is sector-leading. However, we’re always learning, always looking for opportuni�es to make further improvements – it’s an ongoing journey.” Scien�sts are increasingly coming to the view that ﬁsh do, contrary to what some once argued, feel pain. Research by Lynne Sneddon at the University of Liverpool, for example, concluded that the nervous system of a ﬁsh includes “pain receptors” whose func�on is similar to the equivalent nerves in mammals. Fish also have similar neurotransmi�ers – chemicals in the brain that can transmit pleasure and pain – to those found in our own brains. Of course, all responsible ﬁsh farm operators have for a long �me taken ﬁsh welfare issues seriously, not just because of the ethical impera�ves involved but also because there are prac�cal reasons why pain and stress do not make for a quality product. Stress causes substances like cor�sol to be produced and this aﬀects the quality and taste of the ﬁsh, so ensuring that slaughter is humane is not only good in itself, but good for the business and the consumer. Where this goes wrong, it can also cause reputa�onal damage to the company concerned. Earlier this year ac�vists from a campaign group, Animal Equality, released a covertly ﬁlmed video that appeared to show poor prac�ce at one of the Sco�sh Salmon Company’s process sites. Fish were shown having been incorrectly stunned and very much alive, le� to thrash around out of the water before eventually being despatched. The video had been shot some �me before, during 2019. At that point the harvest sta�on concerned was not a member of the RSPCA Assured
Top: Sco�sh Sea Farms processing automa�on Above: The Smith-Root humane ﬁsh harvester Left: Sco�sh Sea Farms Donald Buchanan Right: DESS Aqua harvest vessel Aqua Merdø
Fish handling and harvesting
We’re “ always learning, always looking for opportuni�es to make further improvements
monitoring scheme, but it became a member in December 2020 (before the video was released). In a statement released in February, RSPCA Assured said: “We were extremely upset and concerned by some of this footage. No ﬁsh deserve to be treated this way… we suspended the site, pending inves�ga�on, a�er these serious historical concerns were brought to our a�en�on.” A�er a detailed inves�ga�on, which included an in-person visit by a specially-trained RSPCA farm livestock oﬃcer, RSPCA Assured said: “We are sa�sﬁed that all historical issues have been fully rec�ﬁed and the RSPCA’s welfare standards are being met.” The RSPCA Assured welfare standards for farmed Atlan�c salmon are very clear on both the process of slaughter and the transporta�on of ﬁsh to the harvest site. For example, the standards state that the only acceptable method of killing is “an eﬃciently applied percussive blow”, that except for emergencies this should be automated, not manual and that a “priest” or secondary stunner must be available throughout the process to be rapidly deployed if necessary.
INTRO Fish Handling & Slaughteringindd.indd 58
Processing machinery group BAADER es�mates that around half of the world’s farmed salmon are harvested using one of the company’s machines. The state of the art is represented by the BAADER 101, which is designed to minimise exposure to light and contact with humans, both of which can stress the ﬁsh prior to stunning. The 101 delivers an electrical ﬁeld which stuns the ﬁsh in an “irreversible” way, the company says. Unlike “electro-seda�on”, the ﬁsh should not be able to wake up again a�er stunning. The system is also set up so that the ﬁsh swim into the machine against the current, replica�ng their inclina�on to swim upstream from the sea to their spawning grounds. US company Smith-Root has developed a Humane Fish Harvester for smaller species such as trout. This uses an electrical ﬁeld to stun the ﬁsh for one second and then a stronger, lethal ﬁeld for about 90 seconds to kill the ﬁsh. Smith-Root says that the system has been successfully deployed in trout farms in Scotland and has been used on more than a million “por�on-sized” ﬁsh (around 500g). The system has been externally audited and has passed its welfare inspec�ons. Also, fewer than 1% of ﬁllets showed signs of hematoma, which can be caused by an incorrectly calibrated charge These are all land-based harvest sta�ons. As reported in last month’s issue (“Full steam ahead”, Fish Farmer April 2021), some operators are turning to onsite harves�ng using specially ﬁ�ed out vessels. AquaShip UK, for example, operates seven harves�ng vessels in UK waters. DESS Aqua is another operator running vessels of this type. There are pros and cons to both land- and sea-based approaches. A harves�ng sta�on on land can rapidly process the ﬁsh from wellboat
Handle with care to packing in a short space of �me, while ﬁsh harvested on a vessel may face a long trip before they even got to the place where they will be packed and on the road. It is also arguably easier to ensure that a land-based system is as eﬃcient and humane as it can be, The other side of the argument is that harvesting at the cageside avoids a poten�ally long trip in a wellboat before the ﬁsh reach the harvest sta�on, which could entail a degree of stress. Any form of ﬁsh handling, of course, must be approached with ﬁsh welfare in mind. This is the thinking behind a new ﬁsh pump that has been developed by PG Flow Solu�ons. The PG-Tornado ﬁsh pump is int ended to enable gentler transfer of ﬁsh. Frøy has awarded PG Flow Solu�ons a contract to deliver the newly developed ﬁsh pump to a
Opposite: Sco�sh Sea Farms processing opera�ve (top); Sco�sh Sea Farms wellboat docked at South Shian Above: Sco�sh Sea Farms Mateusz Grabiec (L) and Donald MacAulay Left: The Tornado DN500 render
INTRO Fish Handling & Slaughteringindd.indd 59
delousing vessel that the company is currently modifying. PG Flow Solu�ons will supply three of its recently developed PG-Tornado ﬁsh pumps to Frøy. The pumps will ensure op�mal ﬁsh welfare and gentle transfer of ﬁsh. The company also supplies a hydraulic drive unit and control system to operate the ﬁsh pumps. The PG-HydroFlow and PG-Tornado pump systems will be installed on deck and hooked up to the delousing system, which is being delivered by SkaMik. Steve Paulsen, CEO at PG Flow Solu�ons, says: “PG-Tornado elevates ﬁsh welfare to a diﬀerent level. The pump has no moving parts that can injure the ﬁsh, and a li�ing height that by a good margin is suitable for de-lousing vessels, wellboats and processing plants.” Whether they are being moved to harvest or for a veterinary treatment, the welfare of the ﬁsh must be a prime considera�on for the farmer. FF
Products and services
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ON 12 April, Benchmark brought its two business areas together in a new office in Bergen, Norway, housing the global head office of Benchmark Genetics and central functions for Benchmark Genetics Norway and Benchmark Animal Health Norway. Jan-Emil Johannessen, Head of Benchmark Genetics, said: “I believe we will be able to find synergies on both the commercial side and R&D with our sister Animal Health. As soon as Covid-19 is behind us, we will be welcoming customers and business partners in our new and modern premises.” The new address is Bradbenken 1, 5003 Bergen, Norway www.bmkgenetics.com THE world-famous FIAP clockwork feeder has been further developed and now a PRO version is also being produced. Clear advantages incorporated in the new model include a sliding ring bearing, a removable conveyor belt – which can be taken out without dismantling the clockwork mechanism – and a shaft made of seawater-resistant aluminum. Also new for this model is an additional clockwork running time of four hours. www.ﬁap.com
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Water-Powered Sabertooth Cuts CO2 TRIALS are getting under way, at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii. for a groundbreaking experiment in renewable energy. The idea is to run Saab Seaeye’s Sabertooth autonomous vehicle, while in seabed residency mode, using wave power. The Sabertooth will patrol pre-programmed areas to collect data, before returning to an underwater docking station for cloud upload and battery recharge. The Sabertooth is the only roaming and hovering system that can operate in both fully autonomous (AUV) and tethered (ROV) modes. The charging technology comes from C-Power’s SeaRAY Autonomous Offshore Power System (AOPS) and its application is expected to prove useful for marine research, aquaculture and defence, among other sectors. www.saabseaeye.com
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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
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Industry DIARY The latest aquaculture events, conferences and courses AUGUST 21
OCTOBER 21 AQUACULTURE EUROPE 2021 Madeira, Portugal October 4-7, 2021
MARCH 22 2022 SEAFOOD EXPO NORTH AMERICA/ SEAFOOD PROCESSING NORTH AMERICA Boston, Massachusetts, USA March 13-15, 2022
RAStech 2022 is the venue for learning, networking and knowledge sharing on RAS technologies, design and implementation across the world.
AQUACULTURE AMERICA 2021 This show will be the largest aquaculture trade show in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest anywhere in the world with nearly 200 booths! This is your opportunity to inspect the latest in products and services for the aquaculture industry.
Hilton Head Island, SC, USA March 30-31, 2022
San Antonio,Texas, USA August 11-14, 2021
Trondheim, Norway August 24-27, 2021
WORLD AQUACULTURE 2021
Merida, Mexico November 15-19, 2021
DECEMBER 21 SEPTEMBER 21 SEAFOOD EXPO GLOBAL/SEAFOOD PROCESSING GLOBAL www.seafoodexpo.com/global
Fira, Barcelona, Spain September7-9, 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 December 5-8, 2021
Alexandria, Egypt December 11-14, 2021
FEBRUARY 22 AQUACULTURE 2022 San Diego, California, USA February 27 - March 3, 2022
Industry Diary.indd 62
AQUACULTURE UK 2022
WORLD AQUACULTURE 2020
AQUACULTURE AFRICA 2021
Aviemore will once again be the venue for this biennial trade fair and conference. It is undoubtedly the most important aquaculture exhibition held in the British Isles. The show has a tremendous following and with increased investment for 2022 it promises to reach even further across the broader aquaculture markets in both the UK and Europe.
Aviemore, United Kingdom May 3-5, 2022
AUGUST 22 WAS NORTH AMERICA & AQUACULTURE CANADA St John’s Newfoundland, Canada. New Dates August/September 2022
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Aquaculture_quarter_127x165.qxp_Layout 1 21/05/2020 Aquaculture_quarter_127x165.qxp_Layout 1 21/05/2020 16:11 Page 1
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Opinion – Inside track
The Changing of the Guard BY NICK JOY
o here it is, my dear old Mum is nearing the end and it is a sad, sad process to have to stand by and watch. Many of you will experience, or have experienced, such an event and it is not only sobering but also thought-provoking. My Mum is 92 and has had an utterly extraordinary life. Brought up in and around Orkney, she has seen profound and lasting change. She travelled around the world and was fearless in the most extreme of circumstances. I can remember well the time she was being shouted at by a Syrian border guard, who was pointing his machine gun at her. She shouted back with equal vigour and the guy backed down. She was a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, everyone fades eventually. You may wonder what on earth this has to do with fish farming, but it made me think about the changing of the guard; the old being replaced by the young. With it comes the refreshing energy of newness and youth. What is often lost are the experiences gained by the old. The original pioneers in our industry have faded away. We have some stories but, to some degree, we have lost the understanding of how we got where we are. As one whose time is coming to an end with this industry (not quite done yet I hope!), I’m not going to rail against the new and the young because I am as much at fault as any. I didn’t appreciate what the early figures knew and I let them leave without a good debrief. So let’s take a brief look at some of what has changed in my time. The number of fish we had in a pen was tiny in those early days; this meant that populations were small but also that there was a high human to fish ratio and we spent much more time looking at fish behaviour. The disadvantage was that there were many layers of net as each pen had its own net, and thus flow was hugely restricted. Also, we only saw the fish from above. Cameras weren’t even dreamed of, so we assessed populations on the basis of surface activity which we now know was pretty inaccurate! Nets could be handled by a couple of guys at a time. This was undoubtedly an advantage as you could feel when fish were trapped or panicking. The disadvantages were that there were a very large number of nets to manage and all too often this caused injury amongst the staff, or the jobs got rushed. Not many vets had any real understanding of fish. There were incredible characters, often in the feed companies, like Geoff Withnall, who would come to the farm and do autopsies to help us understand the causes of stock loss. Quite often the entire staff would turn out from a lunch break just to learn from him. On one farm I was on, a boat was stuck on the slip. Without hesitation in his beautifully polished shoes, Geoff waded in and put his shoulder to the boat. It was never forgotten. People with little pathology training were having to decide when their fish required treatment, but the word of the staff at sea was listened to because they had to make judgements. I’m not sure that is so much the case now; we have become reliant on someone making a judgement from far away. Getting the balance right is hard. Are we a better industry now? We certainly are bigger, hugely so and that couldn’t have been achieved without improvement. There is much better technology and much greater specialism, both
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is often “What lost are the experiences gained by the old
of which have brought benefits in many ways. Nonetheless we should try to remember our roots so that we can be objective about what we have achieved and what we have lost. We must never lose the “specialness” of salmon. If salmon farming tries to become the cheapest protein in the market, with next to no taste and little health benefits, then it competes with chicken and the like which are much more predictable to produce. Salmon is a wonderful tasting, healthy food. As long as it remains so, it will remain a valued part of a healthy diet and so our industry will continue to thrive. I don’t think the industry is worse. I think it’s safer, more thoughtful in some ways and more balanced. I’m not sure that I always agree with the direction it takes but I do think that’s true of every generation. I am sure that there are plenty who think that I made enough mistakes of my own. In the end, we all do our best and try to move things forward. After all these years, I still think this industry has a vibrant future!. FF
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