Ben Hadfield at the opening of MH Scotland's Inchmore hatchery earlier this year, before the firm changed its name. Photo: FFE.

Looking back, thinking ahead: Ben Hadfield

Fish Farming Expert has asked well-known figures in the Scottish salmon farming industry about their high and low points of 2018, and what they hope for in 2019.Today we feature Ben Hadfield, managing director of Mowi Scotland (formerly Marine Harvest Scotland).

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What was your best moment / occasion of 2018?

After seeing record profits and production volumes in 2017 for Mowi Scotland, it was hard to see 2018 develop as a low production year based on lower smolt stockings in 2016. However, all biological key performance targets improved markedly during 2018 and the production team here achieved the lowest levels of sea lice since 2007; this is the single biggest success and leaves us in a great place to grow bigger, higher-quality salmon into 2019. It was a hard one and what’s clear is that we have resilient and talented people in this business!

And what was the worst?

Reading a coordinated all-out assault on our sector, in the opinions submitted as part of evidence the ECCLR and REC inquiries, was frustrating. Even though we respect free speech and critical opinions being voiced, I was disappointed at so many unsubstantiated opinions were allowed to detract from the veracity of the inquiry. Going forward our sector will do more on transparency and to reduce any potential risk and conflict with wild salmon interests – but it very much deserves a fairer and science-led hearing as Scotland’s largest and most sustainable food production sector. We will ensure this is the case in 2019.

What's the one thing you'd most like to see happen to benefit salmon farming in 2018?

I want to see the industry lead the agenda by exceeding expectations on the key areas highlighted by the REC inquiry and from that base a more confident industry message that is better at communicating its wealth creation activities, its environmental benefits and the essential role it plays in the Scottish economy. 

Tomorrow: ReLAKSation blog author and market analyst Martin Jaffa.