Wester Ross managing director Gilpin Bradley, right, at the Wester Ross stand at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona earlier this month. Photo: FFE.

Scotland’s last independent salmon farmer bought by Mowi

Mowi Scotland has been confirmed as the new owner of Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd, which was Scotland’s last independent salmon farmer.

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Norwegian-owned Mowi, the world’s biggest salmon farmer, has for weeks been rumoured to have bought Wester Ross Salmon, but made no comment when previously asked about the issue by Fish Farming Expert.

A document posted on the Companies House website today states that on 30 June Mowi Scotland Ltd became a relevant legal entity with significant control of Wester Ross Fisheries.

A separate document posted on the Companies House site this week states that Gilpin Bradley, former managing director of Wester Ross fisheries, ceased to be a person with significant control of the company on the same date.

Three sites

Founded in 1977 by Robin Bradley and Alan Mann, Wester Ross Fisheries was the oldest independent, owner-operated salmon farm in Scotland and operates three seawater sites in Loch Kannaird, Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom, with a processing unit and a sales and administration office in Dingwall.

The company uses no antibiotics or medicines in the rearing of its salmon, and controls sea lice by using sustainably fished ballan wrasse from the sea lochs where it farms its salmon. Wester Ross uses a specially developed feed with a high marine content based on trimmings from fish caught for human consumption.

In 2020, Wester Ross Fisheries had a turnover of £16.15 million and made an operating profit of £2.62m. Profit after tax and interest was £2.2m, and net assets were valued at £10m.

Norway, Netherlands and North America

Of the four large volume producers in Scotland, Mowi and Scottish Sea Farms are both Norwegian-owned, Bakkafrost Scotland (the Scottish Salmon Company) is part of Faroese firm Bakkafrost, and Cooke Aquaculture Scotland belongs to Canadian family-owned Cooke Inc.

Loch Duart Salmon, which produces around 6,000 tonnes a year, is owned by United States sustainable investor Vision Ridge Partners, and Skye-based Organic Sea Harvest is part-owned by Norway’s Villa Seafood Group, Visscher Seafood from the Netherlands and the principals of Dom International in Canada.  

Fish Farming Expert is contacting Bradley and Mowi for comment.