Orkney salmon farm wins top M&S prize

SCOTTISH Sea Farms’ team at Wyre, Orkney, has been named by M&S as its outstanding producer of the year in the Farming for the Future Awards 2018.
The 1,909-tonne capacity farm, established in 2015, performs a dual role, not only rearing its own salmon from smolt to adulthood, but also acting as a nursery for young salmon headed to neighbouring Eday where conditions are more tidal.
Only once the salmon are large enough to thrive in the strong tidal flow are they transferred out to Eday.
This efficiency was one of four awards criteria that set Wyre apart in its category. Judges were equally impressed at how much the team, led by Phil Boardman who until recently was also farm manager of Eday, had achieved with regards to:
• Ethics – developing a predator resistant containment system which has reduced the number of seal attacks and helping to test a new low frequency ADD thought to operate outside the normal hearing range of cetaceans such as whales and porpoises;
• Environment – deploying innovative new easy-clean nets which, unlike standard nets or the hulls of ships and boats, don’t require copper-based anti-fouling, helping preserve the sea’s own balance of this naturally occurring heavy metal;
• Education – investing in the training and development of each individual member to create a team with complementary skills and expertise.
The combined result over the last crop was no escapes, no seals shot, no medicinal bath treatments and low mortalities.
Boardman said: ‘Both farm teams – Wyre and Eday – are proud of the results achieved and rightly so as both have worked hand in hand to create the best environments in which to rear our salmon.
‘We have a really great mix of people, some of whom are locals while others have moved into the area bringing new skills and knowledge.’
One such new face is Matthew Jackson, 27, from Milton Keynes who joined Scottish Sea Farms as a graduate trainee and worked under Boardman’s tutelage while gaining a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture to Level 3. He will now take over as farm manager of Wyre enabling Boardman to focus on Eday.
The awards presentation took place on the first day of the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston in Edinburgh.
Accepting the Outstanding Producer award on behalf of the Wyre team was Scottish Sea Farms’ Orkney regional manager, Richard Darbyshire, who said: ‘Scottish Sea Farms sets itself exacting standards and the results show in the quality of our product.
‘M&S have actively encouraged these high standards since day one, however to have them recognised with a Farming for the Future Award provides added motivation to keep seeking new and better ways of doing things.’
Scottish Sea Farms supplies M&S Lochmuir salmon and the award was the latest in a series of the retailer’s Farming for the Future Award wins for the company. Previous successes include Innovation, Young Producer, Rural Communities, Global Champion of Champions and Plan A in Action.
Picture:Richard Darbyshire being presented with the Wyre team’s award by Steve McLean, head of Agriculture and Fisheries Sourcing at M&S