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Mowi Scotland chief hits back at ‘insulting’ fish welfare claims

Ben Hadfield:
Ben Hadfield: "We take allegations about poor animal welfare very seriously. However, baseless allegations from campaigning groups that refuse to engage with us directly is an insult to our dedicated professionals who have built their careers caring for salmon." Photo: Mowi.

Mowi Scotland boss Ben Hadfield has criticised “baseless allegations” by anti-salmon farming groups that he said were an insult to the company’s dedicated staff caring for fish.

His comments follow last Friday’s announcement by certification body RSPCA Assured that its inspectors found no evidence to support claims made by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and anti-fish farm activists in March about welfare breaches at five Scottish farms run by different producers.

Hadfield, chief operating officer farming for Mowi in Scotland, Ireland and the Faroes, said: “I was very disappointed to hear of the allegations made by CIWF, knowing that these allegations did not represent the daily care our veterinarians and farmers take raising their salmon.

Prompt reaction

“I was glad to see the prompt reaction from the RSPCA to investigate the claims. When I learned of the allegations made in CIWF report, I immediately asked that a camera accompany our fish health professionals to demonstrate the care we take and to see, unscripted, the conditions at our farms and the high quality of our salmon.

“We take allegations about poor animal welfare very seriously. However, baseless allegations from campaigning groups that refuse to engage with us directly is an insult to our dedicated professionals who have built their careers caring for salmon.”

Mowi has now released a series of short videos made from footage of health manager and fish vet Ana Herrero carrying out a health check at Mowi’s Gorsten farm. Mowi says the health check was not scripted or staged, and fish were randomly selected.

Ana Herrero talks about her role at Mowi in the longest of a series of short videos. This film last 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Video: Mowi Scotland.

Herrero has a veterinary degree from the University of Murcia, a master’s degree in aquaculture from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a doctorate in aquatic veterinary studies from the University of Stirling.

In the videos, Herrero is seen examining fish and explain her role.

“Gorsten benefits from a lot of freshwater in the area so they very rarely have any gill problems. It is a very good site to have a fish farm,” says the vet, who worked for Fish Vet Group before joining Mowi last year.

Talking about sea lice, Herrero says: “We have a responsibility as fish farmers, and obviously as health specialists, therefore, when we do our routine tests, our purpose of doing them so often is that we can actually act quickly when we have a situation when we are worried about our fish.”

As well as the main video, the other films can be viewed here, here, here and here.