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Innovations in the Scottish salmon industry

September 4, 2018

Scotland is known for its wild beauty, strong cultural traditions and for several stand-out signature dishes—salmon chief amongst them.

Naturally, any trip to the country will always be good fun. Due to its standing as a world leader in the aquaculture industry a trip to the north can also be an opportunity for learning. This August Chris Ninnes, CEO of the ASC, and Scott Nichols, a member of the organisation’s Supervisory Board, visited a number of farms in Scotland on a fact-finding trip to get caught up on the latest innovations happening in the Scottish salmon industry. 

Ben Hadfield, Marine Harvest Scotland (MHS) Managing Director, accompanied Chris and Scott on a tour of their facilities, including their fresh water operations. MHS have been researching all aspects of salmon farming to find effencies and make production more sustainable. As part of this, they have made a significant investment in smolt (young fish) production technology to ensure that the salmon raised by MHS limit their impact on their environment from the very beginning of the life cycle.  

“Working with stakeholders of differing viewpoints is core to maintaining strong standards,” said Chris. “We met with many groups during our visit and also got to see first-hand the way the industry is updating practices. The smolt production facilities at Marine Harvest Scotland are impressive and were certainly a highlight of the trip,” said Chris.

At a meeting during the visit to their facilities, senior management at MHS reaffirmed its commitment to certifying its salmon farms to ASC. 

“Marine Harvest Scotland maintains several quality, environmental and animal welfare standards that recognise and audit our full production cycle that takes place in freshwater and at sea. The ASC standard is also a certification scheme we are very much wanting to pursue,” said Ben. 

Ocean-based salmon farms receiving smolts in freshwater lochs are not able to achieve ASC certification. However, the ASC Fresh Water Trout Standard is currently under review. Due to the similarities between trout and salmon—and paralles in their production when these species are raised in either freshwater or the sea— updates to the standard regarding smolt will also be applicable to salmon. The proposed update would also introduce requirements for data collection, providing a previously unavailable resources that will allow for improved understanding of the impact of farming on wild salmon in the region. 

The amendment to the current trout standard has undergone its second phase of public consultation, with a final decision to come before year end. All information on the review, including the stakeholder comments, can be found on the ASC website. 

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