Community consultation launched by Mowi for post-smolt programme
Mowi has launched a community engagement process to explore the potential for its farms at Loch Etive to grow post-smolt salmon.
The proposed post-smolt programme will realise a number of benefits for the salmon as well as Loch Etive and the surrounding environment.
Wild salmon begin their life in freshwater rivers and naturally migrate to the sea – a process called smoltification. Post-smolt salmon describes farm-raised salmon that are delayed in their transfer from freshwater to saltwater and are therefore a larger-than-average size of smolt.
In traditional salmon farming, smolts are moved directly from freshwater hatcheries and lochs to seawater sites at a size of about 130 grams, where they are grown for 18-24 months before harvest. With post-smolt salmon, they are moved to sea when they are larger and more robust at a size of up to 1.0 kg. This reduces the on-growing time at offshore sea sites to 12 months, avoiding a second summer of warm temperatures and resulting algae blooms that can create significant health challenges for large salmon.
Post-smolt production will have a number of benefits for Loch Etive. Currently, individual sites are fallowed at different times. A new production plan that includes six-month growth cycles will enable farms to synchronise fallow (empty) periods throughout the whole loch system. This break in production combined with the loch’s naturally brackish waters will help maintain low sea lice population in Loch Etive (sea lice do not flourish in low salinity). With less standing biomass on site, less feed will be used and therefore less organic waste generated which will aid in the seabed’s recovery. Harvesting operations will be eliminated which will lessen overall vessel activity on the loch.
Mowi’s production experts have reviewed several options for its post-smolt programme, including a land-based recirculation unit, and have found Loch Etive to be the most suitable considering cost and carbon footprint.
On February 8th 2023, Mowi Scotland purchased Dawnfresh Farming Ltd, which includes three hatcheries, three freshwater sites and four seawater sites. Mowi has appointed farmer Clara McGhee as Area Manager of Dawnfresh operations. Previously farm manager of Mowi’s 3,500 tonne salmon farm at the Isle of Muck, Ms McGhee holds an undergrad in Sustainable Development and a Master’s in Sustainable Aquaculture from Stirling University.
Ms McGhee comments: “I am excited about this opportunity for Mowi and Dawnfresh, and for me personally and professionally. I look forward to bringing all my knowledge and experience into this role and working with our new colleagues at Dawnfresh.”
Mowi Scotland currently operates the Dawnfresh Farming company as a separate business.
Mowi Scotland operates around 55 farming locations covering hatcheries, freshwater lochs, seawater sites, primary and value-added processing, and feed milling. The company produces approximately 65,000 tonnes of salmon annually and employs 1,250 people in the Highlands and Islands and Fife.