Scottish Sea Farms takes delivery of new £1.9 million workboat

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Salmon farmer steps up drive to improve gill health with “Fair Isle” vessel built by Nauplius Workboats.

In a press release on Wednesday, Scottish Sea Farms writes that it is set to take delivery of a new purpose-built workboat to increase response times to gill health issues. This follows on from its GBP 750,000 investment in two gill-health related research projects.

“Fair Isle”
Costing GBP 1.9 million, “Fair Isle”, named after the island that lies between mainland Shetland and Orkney, will service Scottish Sea Farms’ more northerly regions delivering proactive, preventative veterinary treatment for gill health issues as they emerge.

Back in September, it was announced that Scottish Sea Farms was collaborating with BioMar, SAIC and academia to double efforts in gill health.

3D Image. PHOTO: SSF & Nauplius Workboats

Gill health
Built by Dutch-based Nauplius Workboats, the 21.2m x 9.3m “Fair Isle” has a service speed of eight knots.

The Lerøy and SalMar-owned salmon farmer explained that this will free up existing workboat “Sally Ann” to dedicate itself to the company’s mainland farms.

Head of Fish Welfare for Scottish Sea Farms Dr Ralph Bickerdike said: “Recent years have seen significant investment in the surveillance of fish health and the farming environment, with water quality monitored on a daily basis and gill health routinely assessed by our farmers to detect any challenges and highlight where pre-emptive action is needed. Having a second dedicated workboat takes this ‘prevention over cure’ approach a key step further, enabling us to administer the best veterinary care at the earliest opportunity.”

“Typically, summer is the most challenging time of year for any salmon farmer as organisms in the marine environment grow more rapidly, posing an increased risk to gill health. However, summer 2019 has been particularly challenging with an increased number of our farms experiencing gill health issues that have impacted on fish growth and survival.

“The ongoing priority is to prevent gill health from ever becoming such an issue. Investing in our ability to respond swiftly with the addition of the Fair Isle is an integral part of that strategy,” added Bickerdike.

Prevention over cure
Due into service in early 2020 following an 18-month build, “Fair Isle” is the latest in a series of investments in gill health by Scottish Sea Farms.

“When it comes to fish health issues of any kind, pursuing prevention over cure has undoubtedly made a positive difference, helping us achieve 88 per cent fish survival at sea in 2019 to date, despite the challenges experienced this summer. Clearly though, there’s still more to be learned as we strive to boost survival rates further and ensure that farmed fish have the best possible lives while in our care”, concluded Bickerdike.