At home at sea
The physiological change that allows a salmon to move from a freshwater to a saltwater environment - from smolt to maturity - is one of nature’s magical moments.
And the marine environments that meet our Scottish salmon are the most beneficial they could encounter.
Our farm sites located on the west coast of Scotland and the northern isles of Shetland and Orkney provide the turbulent, clashing currents that help keep the water clear and the seabed clean.
Especially around Orkney and Shetland, our fish swim against some of the strongest, most extreme sea currents in the UK, sweeping through at 22cm per second.
To do that they must fight hard. And in accepting this natural challenge, they grow fit and strong, developing the muscle and the flesh that clearly define a Scottish Sea Farms salmon.
Sea farm sites – working with nature
The first salmon farm in Shetland was actually a wooden cage with 1,500 smolts. Now a large site can have 14 cages with 600,000 fish.
And as these are often exposed to the tempers and torments of the sea, the health and safety of our people is a prime concern.
Steel cages provide more secure working platforms, although they do need to be regularly repaired and replaced due to the battering they receive.
That’s why the majority of our marine farms are now three-ring, fully decked plastic circles, roughly 18 metres in circumference, which keep our people safe and allow them to work in conditions not possible on other structures.
Of course, the evolution of our sites has always reflected our responsibility to our fish.
The investment in cage infrastructure provides excellent containment and supports our industry-leading record in preventing marine escapes.
Heavy investment in Idema net cleaning technology reduces the need for net changes and chemical anti-foulant usage.
Across a number of sites we continuously monitor cage-specific oxygen levels, allowing objective measurement of net hygiene and feeding to optimal physiological and environmental conditions.
We operate Storvic Quattro feeding systems which match feeding rate to salmon appetite. There’s no waste of our top quality feed, and it frees our hands to further develop our husbandry skills.
Loch Creran is a site of international importance and a designated Special Area of Conservation - the only place in Europe where remarkable living reefs of serpulid worms occur in abundance.
Each of these worms live inside a calcareous tube that intertwines, forming aggregations that grow to almost a metre high and three metres wide. These intricate structures create underwater islands that provide shelter for many species of animals and plants.
A delicate balance exists between our usage of the loch and the unique wildlife it contains.
To ensure its protection, and with the guidance of Scottish Natural Heritage, our South Shian ‘Pump Ashore’ project - the proposed installation of a floating pontoon for wellboat berthing with direct connection to our processing plant - underwent impact assessment.
The results led to extensive modifications to the project and the involvement of expert contractors.
It also led to our Loch Creran farm winning the Crown Estate 'Farm of the Year' award, and showed aquaculture and the environment working in perfect harmony.