From left: Jarl van den Berg, Mairi Gougeon and Ove Thu open the upgraded facility.

Organic growth for salmon hatchery

Minister praises company's significant investment in innovation as she opens upgraded facility

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A salmon hatchery that has been upgraded to meet the needs of Skye fish farmer Organic Sea Harvest has been officially opened by the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon.

Hendrix Genetics’ Inverkerry Hatchery and Smolt Unit at Gairloch in Wester Ross now has more tank space for the 1.2 million smolts grown annually. Stocking densities are important for Soil Association organic certification, and the expansion at Inverkerry enables the fish to be grown at organic densities of up to 20kg/m3 compared to the conventional density of up to 50kg/m3.

The upgrade to the Inverkerry hatchery, which is situated at the mouth of the River Kerry and dates from 1984, began in 2020.

Driving innovation

The upgraded Inverkerry hatchery and smolt unit will provide a safe and steady supply of smolts for Organic Sea Harvest.

Gougeon said: “This significant investment in the new facilities at Inverkerry is another example of how Scotland’s aquaculture industry is championing and driving innovation.

“Such innovation will ensure the sector continues to deliver improvements, in this case to fish health and welfare.”

The minister added that it was imperative that the aquaculture industry, and its supply chain, continues to invest in research, development and innovation, to support the sector’s long-term sustainability.

Room to grow

Ove Thu, chief executive of Organic Sea Harvest, said the upgraded facility ensured a safe and steady supply of high quality smolts that the company needs for its farms at Invertote and Culnacnoc off the north-east coast of Skye.

“There is also some room for further investments to support our ambitions to grow,” said Thu.

“We are looking forward to continuing the excellent partnership with Hendrix Genetics on our mission to establish Organic Sea Harvest as the leading producer of high quality Scottish organic salmon.”

Origin story

From left: Organic Sea Harvest director Alex MacInnes, Jarl van den Berg, and Mairi Gougeon.

Jarl van den Berg, general manager of Dutch-owned Hendrix Genetics Salmon UK, said: “Scottish salmon is an international success story which starts with high quality salmon eggs and smolts with the best survival, health and growth rates.

“We’re proud to be part of this origin story, producing the highest quality organic smolts for Organic Sea Harvest, which go on to thrive at sea.”

Tavish Scott, chief executive of salmon producers’ and supply chain trade body Salmon Scotland, said: “For our farmers, everything revolves around good biology. This means high standards of fish health and welfare throughout a salmon’s lifecycle.

“Scottish salmon is the best in the world because we adhere to the strictest animal welfare and sustainability standards, and this massive investment into the Inverkerry hatchery will deliver the highest organic certification.”