Trends during development of Scottish salmon farming: An example of sustainable intensification?


Ellis T, Turnbull J, Knowles TG, Lines JA & Auchterlonie NA (2016) Trends during development of Scottish salmon farming: An example of sustainable intensification?. Aquaculture, 458, pp. 82-99.

Commercial farming of Atlantic salmon in Scotland started in 1969 and has since expanded to produce >179,000 t year-1. A government department has published annual statistics and information on the seawater and freshwater sub-sectors of the Scottish salmon farming industry since 1979, and this review collates and discusses metrics covering aspects of production, farm sites and systems, fish performance, socio-economics and environmental pressures. Trends illustrated in this case study of aquaculture development include: initial increases in numbers of farms and companies, followed by decreases due to industry consolidation; increases in average farm size, and productivity of systems and employees; increases in survival, size at age and productivity of fish (yield per smolt, ova per broodstock); reduced dependence on wild stocks for ova. This case study also illustrates the importance of disease management, control of biological processes to overcome natural seasonality (i.e. production of out-of-season smolt), and the international nature of aquaculture. Improvements in fish survival, growth and productivity are attributed to progress in vaccination and health management (including fallowing), husbandry, system design, feed formulation and provision, and introduction of technology and mechanisation. Salmon farming is discussed in relation to the challenging strategy of ``sustainable intensification{''}. Improved growth and survival over a period of increasing rearing unit size, farm size and output and decreasing relative staff input counters the common assumption that intensification compromises animal welfare. The value of capturing time series data on industry wide metrics is illustrated as it enables identification of trends, underperformance and bench-marking, as well as assessment of resource use efficiency, environmental pressures, and ultimately sustainability. Crown Copyright (C) 2016 Published by Elsevier B.V.}

Animal welfare; Aquaculture development; Environmental impacts; Performance indicators; Salmon farming; Sustainable intensification

Aquaculture: Volume 458

Publication date01/05/2016
Publication date online09/02/2016
Date accepted by journal07/02/2016
Place of publicationPO BOX 211, 1000 AE AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS