Coming on the eve of the giant aquaculture trade show Aqua Nor in Trondheim, where Ms Gougeon will officially open the Scottish Pavilion along with meeting producers and suppliers, the fact-finding mission included a visit to the world’s largest single fish farming installation, Ocean Farm 1.
Pioneered by SalMar, the semi-submersible offshore farm measures 110m in diameter with a total height of over 50m and is designed to hold up to 1.6 million salmon.
In operation off the coast of Norway since 2017, it has now successfully completed two production cycles, the learnings from which are now helping inform the next generation design.
En route to Ocean Farm 1, Ms Gougeon was also shown one of SalMar’s open pen farms which, whilst similar in approach to many Scottish farms, is equipped with 15 x 160m pens capable of producing nearly 10,000 tonnes of fish – three times the biomass currently permitted in Scotland.
Commenting on the advances in farming approach, Ms Gougeon said:
‘I am pleased to have had the opportunity to see Ocean Farm 1 first-hand. Innovation is vital to support our ambitions for a sustainable aquaculture industry and supply chain in Scotland, as set out in our recently published Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture.
‘The Scottish Pavilion at Aqua Nor showcases the innovation, technology and research of Scottish aquaculture to an international audience. Supported and funded by the Scottish Government, the Pavilion will create economic opportunities for the sector, including Scottish small and medium-sized businesses.
‘Scotland’s aquaculture sector is a significant contributor to our economy, generating approximately £885 million GVA and an estimated 11,700 jobs while producing healthy and nutritious products.’
Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director Jim Gallagher, who accompanied the Cabinet Secretary, alongside Head of Sustainability and Development Anne Anderson and SalMar executives, said the Scottish sector is keen to mirror Norway’s innovative ways of working, improved efficiencies and enhanced green credentials.
‘When it comes to discussing the potential for the sustainable growth and development of the Scottish farmed salmon sector, where better to come than Norway, the global leader, with the opportunity to see the latest innovations in practice,’ said Mr Gallagher.
‘Ocean Farm 1, which has proven itself to be a worthy addition to traditional farming, illustrates the potential offered by more exposed sites.
‘Meanwhile, at the open pen farm, the depth and tidal flows are very similar to those in Scotland but with more space and capacity permitted, improving water exchange, fish health, and, in turn, security of supply.
‘It fits well with our own drive to modernise and consolidate farms into fewer locations but with larger pens. Being able to see these kinds of advances in best practice really is the best way to build up knowledge and we’re immensely grateful to Ms Gougeon for her time and interest.’
Following the visits out to farm, the Cabinet Secretary was also given a tour of SalMar’s state-of-the-art processing plant in Frøya for an insight into the advances being made towards a circular economy, with 100% recovery of by-products to produce fish oil and fishmeal for animal feed.
Aqua Nor is being held from August 22-24.