Mowi Scotland nets first ASC freshwater certification, trials sea lice avoidance technology

Published on
June 2, 2020

The Loch Lochy and Glenfinnan salmon farms operated by Mowi Scotland have become the first farming sites in the world to attain Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification for freshwater lochs. 

As part of the company’s ambition to have all of its farms ASC-certified by 2025, the two farms secured certification against ASC's revised trout standard, which now recognizes the production of salmon smolts in freshwater lochs.

Mowi Scotland Technical Manager Rory Campbell described the achievement as a “significant milestone” for the business, and explained that along with its recirculating aquaculture facilities, the freshwater loch sites provide a vital part of its salmon’s lifecycle before entering the sea.

“Achieving ASC certification at these freshwater loch sites ... now allows us to have a pipeline of ASC-certified smolts for our seawater sites and enables us now to push on with our plan to achieve ASC certification across our business,” he said.

The audits were carried out in February, when two auditors spent two days auditing each farm, with one focused on technical information and the other looking into personnel issues such as health and safety, human resources, and payroll.

“There are hundreds of criteria within the trout standard and you have to pass every single one in order to get accreditation,” Mowi Scotland Certification Manager Samuel Clegg said. “It really does take the whole team to achieve this standard. The auditors look at every aspect of our business including our relationships with stakeholders local to the farms.”

Loch Lochy and Glenfinnan will hold the standard for a year when both will need to be audited again as part of the yearly ASC surveillance audit process.

Meanwhile, the company’s salmon farm at Port na Cro (Argyll and Bute) has become the first farm in the United Kingdom to trial the new Tubenet technology specifically designed to proactively avoid sea lice. The project is part of a commercial-scale validation that follows successful trials carried out at Mowi’s research center in Norway.

Produced by aquaculture technology and services provider AKVA Group, Tubenet is a lice prevention concept that works by keeping fish below the traditional sea lice belt that is in the upper water column. This is achieved by installing a large cylindrical passageway in the center of a cage, from which tarpaulin hangs and protects salmon from lice infestations when they swim to the surface to fill their swim bladders.

Fish feed is delivered by way of subsurface feeding tubes, and cleaner fish welfare is safeguarded by using tailor-made hides specifically for Tubenets. In the case of Port na Cro, the tarpaulin hangs to a 14-meter depth and the feeders are placed at 13 meters. The inner cylinder is 60 meters in circumference.

Port na Cro Farm Manager Gareth Siney said the farm currently uses lots of different tools to tackle sea lice such as water pressure and using cleaner fish that naturally pick the sea lice off salmon.

“But this technique is the first that is proactive by essentially trying to avoid sea lice being present in the water in the first place. How it works is that the Tubenet provides a barrier at the surface of the water creating a separation between our fish and where sea lice naturally gather,” he said.

According to research already conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the system can lead to as much as an 80 percent reduction in sea lice infestation over time.   

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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