Wester Ross sees dividends in move to fewer grow-outs

William Stoichevski

Wester Ross Salmon might now already have some of the look of future Scottish aquaculture, judging by recent company moves on the marketing and salmon-farming fronts.

While the industry — including Wester Ross managing director, Gilpin Bradley — has expressed to official Scotland a desire to group production in fewer, larger grow-outs ahead of biomass and other rules changes due out shortly, the company has gone ahead and moved its 2,500 tonnes of production from eight farms to three . A recent promotional video promotes the company’s “artisanal” hand-feeding and care for salmon in Little Loch Broom that have been kept healthy by cleaner fish and fish-derived feed.

New smolts arriving at the company’s two Ardessie (former Marine Harvest) farms in the fall of 2017 are due to be harvested for Christmas 2018 in a pattern that has served the company, its fish and its US and UK customers since the 1970’s. The company net pens are “cleaned naturally” and then dried in the sun the old-fashioned way.

“We’re proud to be labour-intensive,” a company expression goes. Help funding the latest innovations, however, are also the stated aim of the industry, although Wester Ross will decide where to apply it.

Bradley was one of a group of Scottish aquaculture execs who recently presented their views on the future of fish-farming in a joint letter to Scottish rule-makers: “We believe that having fewer, larger sites would improve lice control through less connectivity and the potential to use more consolidated lice control techniques.”

Already, too, The Scottish Salmon Company has started to group their production in fewer larger sites, making fallow smaller sites that might be less cost-effective or potentially lie in the path of wild salmon. In truth, that’s in-line with new Chilean rules and, in part, Norway’s lice-count based zoning restrictions.

US scope
Concentrating salmon production also opens up to marketing opportunities and easier production controls, it seems. Loch Broom salmon, if not a brand, is already making an impact in the U.S., judging by social media.

“Purchased your salmon for the first time from Sunset Foods in IL, USA, this week. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for supplying such quality fish to the rest of the world!” an American buyer tweeted on Facebook.


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