Grieg sites reporting a reduction in lice burden of up to 70 per cent.
Working with Grieg Seafood Shetland, Benchmark’s team in Shetland are seeing great results from lumpfish produced at its recently revamped production facility at Sandwick with some Grieg sites reporting a reduction in lice burden of up to 70 per cent.
Cyclopterus lumpus might not quite be an obvious Hollywood hero, but it is now seen as having a key role in the growth of Shetland’s salmon aquaculture industry.
These hopes have been intensified by the establishment of the islands' first commercial-scale production facility for the creature more commonly known as the lumpfish or lumpsucker. While a lone lumpsucker might not make much of a difference, having a hatchery that aims to produce several million of them a year raises expectations considerably. For it’s not just the outlandish looks of the lumpfish that attract attention: it also has an ability to help the salmon sector overcome its biggest problem thanks to its taste for picking parasitic sea lice off their salmonid hosts.
Mothballed since the collapse of the islands’ cod aquaculture industry in 2008, the former No Catch hatchery at Broonies Taing, in Sandwick, is once more full of life – both human and piscine. Its tanks, long since empty of cod, are now occupied by hundreds of thousands of the lumpfish, which are being looked after by a team assembled by Benchmark's FAI Aquaculture the newest addition to the archipelago’s impressive fish farming sector.
"We are delighted to have a lumpsucker hatchery on our doorstep. We know that transportation is stressful to fish and minimising transport time and distance is always our aim. It also will allow us to develop a closer relationship with the producer and to share knowledge throughout the lifecycle, which we hope will allow both FAI and ourselves make better decisions for the cleaner fish." Grant Cumming, MD Grieg Seafood, Shetland.
“FAI and our sister company StofnFiskur supply lumpfish across Scotland and Iceland and – through Iceland – to the Faroe Islands,” explains Ben Perry, technical director of Benchmark's FAI Aquaculture. “These are grown from eggs harvested from fish caught by Iceland’s lumpfish caviar fishery – it’s MSC certified, so highly sustainable.
It’s a project that FAI has devoted considerable resources to in recent years.
"We have the capacity to produce just over 3 million lumpfish a year in Scotland. We started the project in January 2016 and put our first fish out to sea that autumn. This year our target is to produce 1.3 million lumpfish across our two sites Sandwick in Shetland and Aultbea in Wester Ross and we have aspirations in 2018 to produce over 2 million." Ben Perry, Technical Director, Benchmark FAI Aquaculture.
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