Inaugural YAS visit offers deep dive into Scottish salmon farming

Editorial Staff

Members of the newly formed Young Aquaculture Society (YAS) visited Scottish Sea Farms’ west coast facilities on Wednesday for an in-depth look at farmed salmon operations.

The day-long event marked the first official YAS visit since its launch by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar at Aquaculture UK in Aviemore in May. The tour began at the Barcaldine Hatchery near Oban, where participants learned about the salmon incubation process and the nurturing of eggs to smolts.

The 19-strong party, made up of young professionals from across the supply chain, research institutes, universities, producers, and sector body Salmon Scotland, were then hosted out on nearby farm Charlotte’s Bay.

There, under the guidance of long-serving Farm Manager Stephen Woods, the group were shown the camera-monitored feeding systems, fish welfare measures, and technology used to monitor water quality.

Completing the salmon lifecycle, the final leg of the inaugural tour took in Scottish Sea Farms’ processing and packing facility at South Shian, where Head of Processing Donald Buchanan took the group through the company’s high-welfare approach to humane harvesting.

Andrew Richardson, Founder and President of YAS and Technical and Standards Manager for Salmon Scotland, said the visit offered a valuable insight into the salmon farming sector.

“Because YAS is open to all working in and around the UK’s aquaculture ecosystem, many of our members have not been on a salmon farm before.

“So, we value any opportunities like this for education, professional development, and networking. Scottish Sea Farms, one of the country’s leading producers, has been very supportive of these values and this milestone visit has embodied them all.”

Group shot of first cohort of YAS members to visit a salmon producer.

Scottish Sea Farms Head of Freshwater Rory Conn agreed that a first-hand view was the best way to learn more about the sector.

“To really understand salmon farming, nothing beats talking to the people who care for the fish daily, and witnessing their level of knowledge, experience, skill and passion.

“At Barcaldine, we have RAS technology at the cutting edge of aquaculture development and the team always take immense pride in sharing their work here with visitors.

“We want to give people the opportunity to form their own opinions about what they’re seeing, so the more questions they ask and the more inquisitive they are, the better use of time it is for us. In fact, we like the visits that run over time because it means that everyone is really engaged, as today’s group was.”

As for what the young ambassadors took from the day, University of Glasgow PhD Researcher Will Barr, who’s working to understand gill associated microbiomes and their role within gill disease in Atlantic salmon, said: ‘This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so the YAS visit presented the perfect opportunity. It was done so well on the day, with insights into each key area.’

YAS is a free network uniting young UK aquaculture professionals to enhance communication, provide support, and foster career opportunities. More information is available at Young Aquaculture Society.


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