A Mowi worker inspects moorings on the walkway of a cage at North Carradale. Photo: Mowi Scotland.

Extra anchors for Mowi Scotland’s high-energy sites

Mowi Scotland is to install additional moorings and anchors at its most exposed farms before winter, following the failure of a mooring rope at its North Carradale site during Storm Ellen last month.

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The failure allowed the farm to be pushed around 800 metres by the tide and winds and caused the escape of nearly 49,000 salmon with an average weight of 4.2 kg from deformed cages.

The incident was particularly inopportune for Mowi because it had applied for planning permission for a new site in the same area just weeks beforehand.

Lessons learned

Like North Carradale, the new site at North Kilbrannan, in Kilbrannan Sound, Argyll and Bute, is classed as a high-energy area.

In a statement last week, Mowi Scotland said it will consider the lessons learned at its other high-energy locations – including Rum, Colonsay and North Carradale – into the development of the proposed Kilbrannan farm.

Asked what that would mean in practice, a Mowi spokesperson told Fish Farming Expert: “Our transition toward higher energy locations that are good for growing fish also exposes our farms and farmers to increasingly dangerous sea conditions, so we are highly focused on ensuring our operations provide for the safety of our fish and employees.

“Mowi will only source its mooring kit from competent and high-quality suppliers familiar with Scotland’s sea conditions. All mooring equipment and design will exceed both the Scottish and Norwegian Technical Standards and will be tested against independent analysis software which is highly advanced and used across the globe within the aquaculture and oil and gas industries.

Further inspections

“We are also collecting better quality environmental data than ever before and using it in conjunction with spatial management tools to provide improved physical characterisation of sites before infrastructure is installed in order to prevent future equipment failure due to under-specification.

“Given the unfortunate event occurring recently at our North Carradale site, we have immediately initiated a programme to further inspect all moorings on our most exposed farms over the next two months, in advance of winter storms. We will be installing additional moorings and anchors at each of these farms for added security.”

Harbour improvements

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has provided an environment licence for the North Kilbrannan site, which will have a maximum biomass of 2,475 tonnes.

In a statement posted on its website last week, Mowi said the farm would create between seven and 10 direct jobs on site, and “support more than 100 jobs within Scotland’s salmon aquaculture supply chain”.

The statement is accompanied by a three-minute video, made before the North Carradale farm incident, in which the company explains its plans for the new farm and the benefits it says it will bring to the local community.

These include improving Carradale harbour, where Mowi has a shorebase that will serve the new farm as well as the North Carradale site.