Salmon Producer Nets Top Award For Major Achievements In Fish Welfare29 May, 2009 – A Sutherland-based salmon producer has received a prestigious award from the RSPCAs farm assurance and food labelling scheme Freedom Food.Nick Joy managing director of Loch Duart in Scourie has been recognised by Freedom Food for his instrumental work in driving higher welfare standards for farmed salmon throughout the food and farming industry.The total number of salmon farmed to the RSPCAs strict welfare standards under Freedom Food has increased from just over one million – when the RSPCA first launched its salmon standards – to more than 294 million in 2009.This impressive result means that about 60 per cent of Scottish salmon production is now being reared to the RSPCAs higher welfare standards, and Nick has played a key part in this success.Nick first began working with the RSPCA and Freedom Food in 1999, when he approached the organisations about developing a unique set of standards for farmed salmon based solely on improving their welfare.Discussions became a reality two years later when Freedom Food launched the first RSPCA welfare standards for farmed salmon, with Loch Duart as its first member. Today, there are seven major salmon producer groups approved by Freedom Food.Nick is constantly striving to improve salmon welfare. His achievements also include:· Opening the first-ever purpose built salmon hatchery last year, designed to minimise the handling of fish and reduce stress. It uses world-leading technology to feed and protect smolts, meaning the fish will almost never leave the water throughout their lives and giving the best possible environment for their welfare· Becoming a founding member of Oceans 25 in 2008 an initiative from the Marine Conservation Society (MSC), which is committed to clean seas, sustainable fisheries and protection for sea life· In 2006 Loch Duart launched an integrated aquaculture programme cultivating sea urchins and seaweed alongside their salmon farms. It is designed to use natures efficiency whilst minimising the release of any nutrients which might affect the local environment – any left over salmon feed, together with the dust and weed growing on the salmon pens, feed the urchins and any remaining nutrients are used by the seaweed to grow.