Anna Price, SSF’s aquaculture technical lead for ASC, with the Lober Rock team. From left: Lee Mainland, Jack Hutton, Greig Fogarty, Andrew Park, Andrew Coghill, Anna Price and Harvey Wooldrage.

Scottish Sea Farms gains first Orkney ASC certification

Salmon farmer keen to add more sites to list after Lober Rock success


Scottish Sea Farms has been awarded ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certification for the first time in Orkney, after recently gaining its first farm accreditation, for its Summer Isles sites on the west coast of Scotland.

Lober Rock, at the south-easterly corner of Scapa Flow, underwent a series of audits to meet the ASC criteria, and Orkney regional manager Duane Coetzer said other farms in Orkney are now being considered for accreditation.

“For Lober Rock to be the second farm to be ASC accredited, and do it quite flawlessly, is a fantastic achievement for the farm team,” said Coetzer. “It also fuels appetite across the region to see more Orkney farms work towards, and achieve, certification.”

Duane Coetzer: Lober Rock success fuels appetite to see more Orkney farms achieve certification.

Core principles

As part of the ASC certification process, farms are independently audited and assessed against seven core principles, covering regulatory compliance, fish health, responsible use of feed and medicines, environmental interactions, employee conditions and community engagement.

The ASC also insists that its standards are met by a farm’s suppliers, from feed to nets, and from boats to divers.

Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) said that Lober Rock became operational just three years ago and has had an excellent start, with 91% superior grade fish and a survival rate of 88% for its first generation.

An obvious contender

Anna Price, SSF’s aquaculture technical lead for ASC, said: “Having produced a really strong first generation of fish, Lober Rock was an obvious contender to be put forward for ASC certification.

“The farm team are passionate about what they do, ambitious to do even better and understood from the word go that the certification process could only help push them on further.”

It is SSF’s first year of applying for ASC certification, and it has also gained ASC chain of custody accreditation for its processing facilities at Scalloway in Shetland and South Shian, Oban.

“The aim is now to have at least another two farms in the Orkney region accredited within the next 12 months – along with our wider farming estate, because the more we go through the certification process, the more we learn and the greater the opportunities for real and positive change across the company,” said Price.

Our processes and practices rank up there with salmon farming elite, not just in Scotland but internationally

Lober Rock farm
manager Andrew Park

Staying vigilant

Lober Rock farm manager Andrew Park said the prospect of becoming the first Orkney salmon farm to gain ASC accreditation appealed to his team.

“We had already put in a lot of hard work to get what is still a young farm running as we wanted. However, it was a daunting thought too,” said Park.

“The audits were even more detailed than we’d anticipated but the team got stuck in and coped ably, successfully demonstrating that our processes and practices rank up there with salmon farming elite, not just in Scotland but internationally.

“Our priority now is to stay vigilant on the core task of keeping our fish in the best health while doing everything we can to protect the local environment in which we farm. Continue to achieve both of those and I’m confident we’ll maintain our ASC certified status for years to come.”

Helping the sector

Coetzer said the ASC standard is a recognition not just of environmental sustainability, but the sustainability of SSF’s whole farming operation.

“We need everybody to buy into what we’re trying to achieve as a company and as a farm, which is doing our best for the livestock. If you look at the standards in the ASC, that is what they are trying to achieve too.

“I think it’s important that our farms put in the extra work to uphold and adhere to the standard because ASC is helping us as a sector, not just as a business, in improving our standards and our working behaviours.”

SSF is Scotland’s second largest salmon farmer, and one of only two to have achieved ASC certification. The other is the country’s biggest salmon farmer, Mowi Scotland, which now has 25 ASC certified sites.