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Meet the farmer: Fern Gillies Robertson

28 June 2021, at 7:30am

After taking a job at Mowi because it was close to home, Fern quickly decided to make a career in aquaculture and hopes to take on a managerial role.

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

My name is Fern Gillies Robertson, I'm 27 and I'm a hatchery technician at Mowi's Lochailort Recirculation Unit in Scotland.

Woman standing near a series of indoor recirculating tanks
Fern has been working in aquaculture since 2013

How long have you been farming for?

I've been farming for seven years and nine months.

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

The site produces Atlantic salmon. Our farm has a total tank volume of 21,739 m³ divided into four areas - fry, parr and two smolt units, which is the equivalent of nine Olympic swimming pools. There's about 15 km of pipework installed in the facility.

We can produce up to 900 tonnes per year and our hatcheries can hold up to 8 million eggs. In 2021, we will take in around 11 million eggs.

All our fish waste is used for fertiliser for agricultural farm land.

What sort of production system do you operate?

The site uses a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).

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

I decided I wanted to work for Mowi as I was looking for a good steady job close to home. I was also very interested in learning about the RAS hatchery and making a career out of the job.

What’s your ultimate ambition in the sector?

I am excited to be going on maternity leave soon, after returning to work I would like to progress and take on a more managerial role.

Aerial view of a RAS facility next to a lake
Mowi's Lochailort Recirculation Unit produces Atlantic salmon

What’s your biggest worry at work?

The welfare of the fish and making sure all the equipment is operational and in good working order.

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

We're very lucky at the Lochailort facility. It's a newer recirculation system, so we have a lot of up-to-date equipment. But I'd like to use the Maskon vaccinating machine - it can vaccinate up to 17,000 fish per hour with only two staff.

What’s your favourite seafood dish?

Breaded haddock, chips and peas.

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.