Loch Duart renews deal with fisheries trust

Loch Duart farm team at work (2)

Independent salmon farmer Loch Duart will continue its partnership with a local conservation organisation for another three years, it has been announced.

Loch Duart, based in the North West of Scotland, has been working with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust (WSFT), which has acted as an independent monitor and auditor of Loch Duart’s fish health data. Now, the deal has been extended for another three years.

WSFT is an independent charity, established in 1996 and based in North West Scotland. The Trust monitors wild fish populations and advises on the management of rivers and lochs in the area. WSFT biologists visit four different Loch Duart farm sites each month to independently audit weekly fish health checks, including sea lice counts and environmental and biological conditions. These audits provide Loch Duart with an unparalleled level of transparency in fish health data reporting, the company said, while also encouraging positive dialogue between the salmon farm and the fisheries trust.

Loch Duart’s working relationship with WSFT goes back to 1999, the year the salmon farm was founded. The verification partnership, which began in 2021, grants WSFT unprecedented access to Loch Duart’s sites.

The company said: “This ensures continued transparency in fish health data reporting and upholds the company’s commitment to doing things the ‘Loch Duart way’.”

Loch Duart’s Beth Osborne (left) working with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust

Beth Osborne, Loch Duart’s Fish Health Manager commented: “There’s absolutely no point in hiding health problems… why wouldn’t we want to be transparent? We’ve been health checking all the pens with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust, doing lice counts, gill scores, and taking gill swabs. WSFT audits the health checks, making sure that what we report is what’s actually here.

“This is a unique partnership and one that both Loch Duart and the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust are proud of. We encourage others in the sector to look at what we’ve been doing and consider similar partnerships”.

She added: “It’s important that Loch Duart works with the Trust because it gives us transparency of our data as a whole, both from the wild stocks as well as the fish farm. It helps the local environment, the local people and all of the local stakeholders. If everything’s healthy in the area and we’ve shared as much information as possible, then everybody benefits.”

Dr Shona Marshall, Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Trust said “Our auditing of sea lice counts has been ongoing for three years and has proved to be a success. We are pleased to extend this partnership with Loch Duart Salmon. Working closely with Loch Duart has given a good understanding of the farm practices, their issues, and solutions. The care shown by the staff towards their fish and their willingness to discuss issues for both farmed and wild fish in an open manner is welcomed. I’m not aware of any other Trust that has the access that I have here ”

Loch Duart supports WSFT with net sweeps and training in sea lice and gill health identification for wild fish. The two organisations also work together to form an environmental management plan, supporting the local area.


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