Applecross and wellboats leading Bakkafrost Scotland fightback

Ronja Star - Bakkafrost

Increased treatment capacity and investment in the Applecross hatchery are enabling Bakkafrost to address fish health issues in its Scottish operations, the company has reported.

“Dual treatment” – tackling sea lice and gill health issues at the same time in wellboats like the Ronja Star, pictured – is helping to improve fish gill health while also keeping lice levels at a record low, the company states in its 2023 fourth quarter report.

This has also reduced the potential impact of the biological challenges during Q4 2023. Consequently, to leverage the improved biological development,

It is well known that Bakkafrost’s farming operation in Scotland faced difficulties during the autumn when the seawater temperatures were higher leading, in turn, to more biological hazards.

It is not just Bakkafrost. The company points out that the salmon farming industry generally in Scotland has suffered from major problems in recent years mainly because of micro-jellyfish and other factors that damage the gill health of the fish.

In order to address the biological risks, Bakkafrost says it has made strategic adjustments to its short-term plans and production strategy for the Scottish farming operation.

And the Applecross hatchery is now playing a prime role in the fightback.

The report states: “A comprehensive risk assessment has been conducted for all farming sites, evaluating the feasibility of stocking and farming these sites using various strains, hatcheries, and smolt sizes.

“Based on this evaluation, Bakkafrost will prioritise and advance the utilisation of large, high-quality smolt from the Applecross hatchery over external sources. Consequently, Applecross will supply nearly all of the required smolt to the marine sites in 2024.

“Some farming sites may not be restocked or remain productive during Q3 until the risks have been mitigated through the use of large, high-quality smolt.

“This approach will reduce the biomass at risk in Q3 and result in around 70% of the 2024 harvest volume being harvested in the first half of the year.”

The company says the Scottish freshwater operation is being focused to grow the production of large and healthy smolt at Applecross, after the first trial batch of 250g smolt was released last May.

This year Applecross is expected to supply 9.1 million smolts at 200-250g, which will make up 98% of the planned smolt release for 2024. When the Applecross 5 & 6 expansions are completed around year-end 2024, Applecross will be able to produce all smolts for Scotland at around 200-300g.

The report adds: “As shown in the Faroe Islands, big and healthy smolt will face lower risks in the marine environment because of shorter production cycles in the sea and more robust salmon. In Q4 2023, the average weight of released smolt in Scotland was 113g, which is 2% lower than in Q4 2022.”

Man and women in life jackets with salmon smolt

Bakkafrost Scotland staff with smolt


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