Mowi, the world's largest salmon farmer, is planning to convert its recently acquired Dawnfresh trout farms site at Loch Etive in Scotland to grow post-smolt salmon.

Last week, the group launched a community consultation to explore the potential for its new post-smolt program.

The proposed program will provide a number of benefits for Loch Etive and the surrounding environment, said Mowi.

Post-smolt salmon are salmon that are delayed in their transfer from freshwater to saltwater, allowing them to grow larger and better suited to survive the transfer process.

In traditional salmon farming, smolts are moved directly from freshwater hatcheries and lochs to seawater sites at a size of about 130 grams, where they are grown for 18-24 months before harvest.

With post-smolt salmon, the fish are moved to sea when they are larger and more robust, at a size of up to 1 kilogram. This reduces the growout time in sea farms to 12 months, helping Mowi to, in this case, mitigate the impacts of warmer summer temperatures and algal blooms on the health of the fish.

Post-smolt production will also have a number of benefits for Loch Etive, said Mowi.

Currently, individual sites are fallowed at different times, but a new production plan that includes six-month growth cycles will enable farms to synchronize fallow periods throughout the whole loch system.

The break in production combined with the loch’s naturally brackish waters will also help the company control sea lice.

Additionally, with less standing biomass, less feed will be used and less organic waste generated.

Mowi reviewed several options for its post-smolt program, including a land-based recirculation unit, and found Loch Etive to be the most suitable considering cost and carbon footprint.

Mowi purchased Dawnfresh Farming in February, including its three hatcheries, three freshwater sites and four seawater sites.

Dawnfresh Seafoods, one of the UK’s largest producers and processors of fish and seafood, entered into administration in March 2022 after being unable to overcome "very serious financial problems."

Mowi appointed Clara McGhee as area manager of the Dawnfresh operations, which are currently operated as a separate business. She was previously farm manager of Mowi’s 3,500-metric-ton salmon farm at the Isle of Muck.

Mowi Scotland operates around 55 farming locations covering hatcheries, freshwater lochs, seawater sites, primary and value-added processing, and feed milling.​ The company produces approximately 65,000 metric tons of salmon annually and employs 1,250 people in the Highlands and Islands and Fife.

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