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Mowi ships fish direct to Denmark to solve processing bottleneck

The Norwegian Gannet harvesting salmon at Portnalong, Skye, for processing on board and delivery to Hirtshals, Denmark. Photo: Mowi.
The Norwegian Gannet harvesting salmon at Portnalong, Skye, for processing on board and delivery to Hirtshals, Denmark. Photo: Mowi.

Mowi Scotland has exported 594 tonnes (gutted weight equivalent) of salmon directly from five pens at its Portnalong site on Skye to the port of Hirtshals in Denmark on the Hav Line processing boat Norwegian Gannet.

The move comes as salmon farmers face the increasing possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and the likelihood of huge delays at cross-Channel ports, but in this case Mowi said it was entirely about solving a problem of limited capacity at its Blar Mhor primary processing plant at Fort William.

Mowi Scotland spokesperson Ian Roberts said: “As Mowi has previously reported, current processing space is at capacity and doesn’t allow for additional fish volumes at our plant in Fort William during peak periods. We have been processing additional volumes in Ireland over the past months and are now processing and packaging some volume in Denmark. We continue to work with our employees to create a long-term solution for fish processing in Scotland that will accommodate all our requirements and future growth.”

Carl-Erik Arnesen:
Carl-Erik Arnesen: "Important milestone".

All went to plan

Carl-Erik Arnesen, director of Hav Line, was on the trip, which entailed salmon with an average weight of 5.2kg being harvested on to the ship and the primary processing being carried out on the journey to Denmark.

“We picked up the salmon west of Scotland, and the pickup of the salmon continued according to plan,” he told Fish Farming Expert’s sister site, 

“After only 46 hours of sailing from the farms fresh salmon was delivered to the salmon terminal in Hirtshals harbour; the whole task was solved to the satisfaction of the farmer. Of course, it has been exciting to pick up salmon in Scotland, since we have so far only collected salmon in Norway, and here we have worked up a certain routine.

“The first trip to Scotland has therefore been an important milestone in the development of the entire Hav Line concept.

“This is proof that the innovative Norwegian salmon concept - the Hav Line method - is so groundbreaking and sustainable that it can already prove its strength even outside Norway.”

It is obvious to see the first voyage of Norwegian Gannet from a Brexit perspective … it is very likely freight transport in the area around the English Channel will collapse.

Hirtshals port chairman Anker Laden-Andersen

The delivery “contributes to the port of Hirtshals becoming the northern European hub for handling and distributing salmon”, said Hirtshals harbour board chairman Anker Laden-Andersen.

“It is obvious to see the first voyage of Norwegian Gannet [to Scotland] from a Brexit perspective,” said Laden-Andersen. 

“After all, there is a certain likelihood that the British will leave the EU on October 31, 2019 without a deal - no Brexit agreement - and that will very likely mean that freight transport in the area around the English Channel will collapse. 

Solutions to the challenge

“Therefore, the collection of salmon in western Scotland and delivery in Hirtshals, which Norwegian Gannet has just completed, is just proof that the innovative Norwegian salmon industry can find solutions to the upcoming challenge. 

“In addition, we as a port can only be satisfied that it has once again been proven that the unique location of Hirtshals port enables the most efficient transport solutions across the North Sea.”

The Norwegian Gannet has caused controversy because it takes processing work away from coastal communities. Processing of harvested salmon is done on board and fish are taken directly to Denmark for distribution, rather than being processed ashore in Norway.

Temporary exemption

The vessel was unable to operate as planned because Norwegian Fisheries Minister Harald T Nesvik demanded that so-called production fish - fish with visible wounds, malformations and similar – must be sorted in Norway.

Earlier this summer the Norwegian government gave the vessel temporary exemption from the requirement.

“We are pleased that the Minister of Fisheries now seems to let reason prevail over scare propaganda from our competitors,” said Carl-Erik Arnesen at the time.