Substantial investment has started to pay off for Marine Harvest Scotland with significant improvements in survival rates for salmon, as well as improvements in their growth.
The news came as Marine Harvest Group posted record profits in its Q2 results and follows a challenging period for the salmon farming industry as a result of sea lice and Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD).
Marine Harvest achieved an operational EBIT of €198 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared to €149 million in the corresponding quarter of 2016.
This performance, the highest ever for half year results, is largely due to bigger fish and a healthy market as a result of strong demand for salmon.
COO praises staff
Ben Hadfield, MD of Marine Harvest Scotland, congratulated his staff on their achievement in reducing the impact of sea lice and AGD. He explained: “We were determined to tackle these issues and have undertaken a massive investment programme which includes the introduction of new technology along with improvements in the design of existing equipment. But most of all, we have a dedicated workforce who were determined to succeed.
“This is a great result for MHS, our shareholders, our staff and local communities. These results have been achieved due to a lot of hard work focused on specific targets such as reduced sea lice numbers, more efficient growth and lower mortality levels.”
Cleaner fish in battle against sea lice
The introduction of wrasse and lumpsuckers – so called cleaner fish – has helped reduce sea lice levels. This pioneering work will now be followed by a scaling up of the company’s production with plans to invest £3.5m on farming cleaner fish.
Other measures include the use of a thermolicer, skirts around the salmon farm nets, and the hydrolicer, which removes lice from the environment with the help of gentle water pressure.
Total investment in sea lice control amounted to £12m in the last year alone.
Quality is key
Another factor in the excellent financial outcome so far this year has been the quality of the salmon grown by the company. More than 97% of the salmon produced has been rated as superior quality, which attracts higher prices.
The appetite for salmon continues to grow worldwide and the company continues to invest in new farms to meet demand. Applications for a salmon farm off the coast of Rum and at Sconser quarry have recently been submitted.
A new fish £93m feed plant is currently under construction at Kyleakin quarry on Skye and a £26m salmon hatchery is nearly complete at Inchmore in Glenmoriston. New salmon farms have been opened off the Isles of Colonsay and Muck in recent years.
Ben Hadfield commented: “We provide much needed jobs in some of the most fragile economies in Scotland and these two projects alone will provide almost 70 well paid permanent jobs. Our workforce is now close to 700, with a further 500 jobs in the salmon processing facility in Rosyth. Salmon farming is a thriving industry and a huge success story for Scotland, and we will continue to invest to grow.”