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New 100% online training course from FishVet Group and Benchmark Knowledge Services on The Health and Welfare of Atlantic Salmon

Meet the farmer: Alex Harvey

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
20 April 2021, at 8:00am

Industry veteran Alex Harvey has been managing Mowi's Loch Hourn farm for 22 years and hopes that aquaculture will continue to make positive contributions to communities in the Scottish Highlands.

What is your name, age, role and country of operation?

My name is Alex Harvey, I’m 50 something - so still a lad really. I’ve been Managing Mowi’s Loch Hourn farm in the Highlands of Scotland for the last 22 years.

Man wearing glasses, sitting at a computer screen
Alex has been farming for nearly 36 years

How long have you been farming for?

I’ve been farming now for almost 36 years, I’ve had a fantastic career that has allowed me to travel to Norway, Canada and some of the Baltic countries, as well as most of Mowi’s farms in Scotland, I’ve met many interesting people along the way I still enjoy every day at work.

What size is your farm and what species do you produce?

At Loch Hourn we have consent for 2,500 tonnes of standing fish biomass, and over a 22 month cycle we can yield between 4,500 and 5,000 tonnes of salmon by size grading at first harvest. The farm is in an ideal location – remote and sheltered – and is in one of the deepest lochs in Scotland with good water exchange. We currently have 10 full time staff and they form the core of a highly skilled and dedicated team.

 

The Health and Welfare of Atlantic Salmon course

It is vital that fish farm operatives who are responsible for farmed fish are trained in their health and welfare. This will help to ensure that fish are free from disease and suffering whilst at the same time promote good productivity and comply with legislation.

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What sort of production system do you operate?

We have twelve 120 metre seawater pens. Pen technology has come on a long way from the little 7 metre wooden pens I started out on, the industry is always looking to the future – innovating and improving, it’s great to be involved in.

Near-shore ocean pens on a cloudy day
Aquaculture has changed dramatically in the 36 years that Alex has been working

Why did you decide to embark on a career in aquaculture?

I was brought up in Lanarkshire, Scotland, but my mother’s family are from Lewis, so we were regular visitors to the Outer Hebrides in the 60s and 70s, farming is in the blood. I love the Highland people, the wildness of the scenery and working at sea.

What’s your ultimate ambition in the sector?

I want to see Highland communities thrive, for people to be valued and for the environment to be respected. Aquaculture has contributed so many positive things to small west coast villages, it’s a privilege to live and work here and to contribute something worthwhile.

What’s your biggest worry at work?

Farming is a vocation, so a little piece of you is always at work, it’s not so much a worry as an understanding that these fish are in your care, so you have to work hard, pay attention to detail and always be thinking ahead.

Man sitting at a computer from the early 1990s
Alex's career in aquaculture has allowed him to travel to Norway, Canada and around the Baltic Sea.

What piece of equipment would you most like to have on your farm?

We are well kitted out at Loch Hourn with a modern Gael Force Barge, robust AKVA pens, and the very latest Sealpro nets from Knox nets, but I would like to have a multi-role landing craft for the site, designed and built locally using skilled craftsmen in the Highlands.

What’s your favourite seafood dish?

Thai fish curry is a real favourite, lockdown has reminded us just how much you can do with locally sourced seafood, so we are always trying something new at home.

If you would like to be considered for taking part in this Fish Site series, please contact megan@hatch.blue with the details of your farm.