Two women on a beach holding a seeping net

Loch Duart Salmon renews support for West Sutherland Fisheries Trust to help its work on wild fisheries conservation

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Partnership continues farm’s commitment to transparent fish health data reporting

Loch Duart Salmon has announced it will continue working with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust (WSFT) as an independent monitor and auditor of its fish health data for another three years. With Loch Duart’s renewed support, WFST can continue its vital work in the conservation of wild fisheries. Loch Duart’s working relationship with WSFT goes back to 1999, the year the salmon farm was founded. The verification partnership, which began in 2021, grants WSFT unprecedented access to Loch Duart’s sites; this ensures continued transparency in fish health data reporting and upholds the company’s commitment to doing things the « Loch Duart way. »

An independent charity established in 1996 and based in North West Scotland, the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust (WSFT) monitors wild fish populations and advises on the management of rivers and lochs in the area. WSFT biologists visit four different Loch Duart farm sites each month to independently audit weekly fish health checks, including sea lice counts and environmental and biological conditions. These unprecedented audits provide Loch Duart with an unparalleled level of transparency in fish health data reporting while also encouraging positive dialogue between the salmon farm and the fisheries trust.

Beth Osborne, Loch Duart’s Fish Health Manager, explained what this access means for herself, the Sutherland community, and the surrounding areas:

“There’s absolutely no point in hiding health problems… why wouldn’t we want to be transparent? We’ve been health checking all the pens with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust, doing lice counts, gill scores, and taking gill swabs. WSFT audits the health checks, making sure that what we report is what’s actually here. This is a unique partnership and one that both Loch Duart and the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust are proud of. We encourage others in the sector to look at what we’ve been doing and consider similar partnerships”.

“It’s important that Loch Duart works with the Trust because it gives us transparency of our data as a whole, both from the wild stocks as well as the fish farm. It helps the local environment, the local people and all of the local stakeholders. If everything’s healthy in the area and we’ve shared as much information as possible, then everybody benefits.”

Dr. Shona Marshall, Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Trust, said:

« Our auditing of sea lice counts has been ongoing for three years and has proved to be a success. We are pleased to extend this partnership with Loch Duart Salmon. Working closely with Loch Duart has given us a good understanding of the farm practices, their issues, and solutions. The care shown by the staff towards their fish and their willingness to discuss issues for both farmed and wild fish in an open manner is welcomed. I’m not aware of any other Trust that has the access I have here « 

Loch Duart support WSFT with net sweeps and training in sea lice and gill health identification for wild fish. They also work together to form an environmental management plan, supporting the local area.

Statistics for the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust monitoring of Loch Duart Salmon:

  • WSFT has visited Loch Duart sites 166 times to carry out audits since the independent auditing programme started in June 2021.
  • The farm’s relationship with the WSFT dates to 1996 & continues to the present day.
  • Loch Duart supported the WSFT in their 2018 sea trout tracking project.

View the Loch Duart and the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust films about their work here.