Aquaculture for all

Cermaq scoops fish welfare award

Atlantic Salmon Welfare +3 more

Cermaq has won the newly established Fish Welfare Prize for instigating measures to improve the quality and survival of its juvenile salmon.

From left: managing director of Cermaq Norway, Knut Ellekjær, member of the jury Brit Tørud from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, and site manager at Holmvåg, Jan Robert Bell © Norwegian Veterinary Institute

The prize was awarded by the Fish Welfare Forum - a collaborative platform for the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Institute of Marine Research – at AquaNor last week for the company’s improvement work at its hatchery in Holmvåg, Norway.

“Good health and welfare for our fish is fundamental in all our work throughout our value chain across all companies in Cermaq,” said Knut Ellekjær, MD of Cermaq Norway. “Good welfare gives a strong and robust fish, good production results and good financial results in the end.”

By careful observation of fry behaviour during feeding, and adjustment of tank hydrodynamics, feed distribution and water temperature the staff at the hatchery have significantly improved survival and fry quality.

“By observing the fry’s behaviour closely, we have been able to act and make adjustments that have given very good results. A result of these changes we now start with 5 percent fewer roe grains [eggs], but still produce the same amount of fry at the facility,” said Marit Mehus, fish health and freshwater manager at Cermaq Norway.

Holmvåg is not a new facility, with tanks from the late 1980s, but this has been no obstacle for improvements.

“These results show that we can make important steps for improved fish welfare also on older facilities. What the staff at Holmvåg have done here is impressive and demonstrates how important their strong commitment to the fish is,” said Mehus.

With the development project iFarm, Cermaq aims to further improve fish welfare by using artificial intelligence and machine learning, identifying each fish in a net pen, and giving it individual follow-up.