Authorities raised concerns over Mowi Scotland lumpfish health and welfare during month of warm sea temperatures

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Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said lumpfish health and welfare was not adequately managed at salmon farmers’ Bagh Dail nan Ceann farm.

In a post on its site, Mowi writes that warmer than average sea temperatures this year (beginning late winter to its peak in July) provided challenges to salmon and lumpfish survival at several of Mowi’s salmon farms in Scotland.

A recent inspection of Mowi’s Bagh Dail nan Ceann farm by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) raised concern that lumpfish health and welfare “was not adequately managed during a month that saw the highest average sea temperatures”.

On September 16th, 2019, APHA communicated to Mowi by letter: “You have not been able to show that adequate actions were taken in the period between 10/7/19 to the 12/08/19 in order to promote the welfare of the lumpfish under your responsibility. Not taking effective decision at earlier date has prolonged the period while the lumpfish still at the site have been in need to be protected from suffering and disease.”

Mowi said that it has since met with APHA inspectors to discuss the agency’s concerns.

“Warm sea temperatures – the second-highest annual average recorded in the last decade – have aided in providing ideal growing conditions for harmful algal blooms and has exacerbated health challenges common to salmon,” wrote Mowi.

“Unfortunately some farm locations have suffered higher than normal mortality rates over the past few weeks,” stated Mowi Scotland production director Gideon Pringle. “Our farmers are devastated to have lost fish after spending months raising them at their farms, and are doing what they can to protect their fish from this prolonged change to their environment.”

Gideon Pringle PHOTO Owen Evans

To help alleviate fish stress from high water temperatures and associated reduced saturated oxygen, Mowi said it has provided its fish with additional air bubbling where feasible (see header photo), and are harvesting affected crops earlier than scheduled to reduce biomass or fallow (empty).

Mowi added that it still plans to harvest current guided volumes.