GRIEG Seafood has outlined the measures it is taking to overcome some of the biological problems facing its Shetland operations.
Writing in the company’s annual report, CEO Andreas Kvame said: ‘Unfortunately, we got a hit back (in Shetland) to 2016 levels.
‘Mortality was caused by the diseases winter ulcers and furunculosis, along with gill and heart diseases and mechanical treatments against sea lice.
‘We are not satisfied with the results and have implemented mitigating efforts. For instance, we are working on improving smolt health and robustness and on reducing the number of mechanical treatments.’
Shetland, he added, worked hard last year to decrease levels of sea lice, which seemed to stabilise at a slightly lower level.
‘We need to work harder to get the levels even lower in 2019. In the UK and Norway, we count sea lice every week at water temperatures above four degrees, and every other week at water temperatures below four degrees.
‘But in British Columbia (BC) we follow local regulations where counts depend on all sea lice levels.
‘In BC, farmed salmon usually catches sea lice from the wild salmon when they pass farms on their way out to the ocean. Here, unlike Norway, the wild salmon population greatly outnumbers the farmed salmon population.’
The CEO explained that the focus in Shetland was also on improving the gill health programme, through monitoring water quality and greater algae control.
Grieg is the largest salmon producer on Shetland, employing almost 200 people, with 13 sites, plus four on the Isle of Skye.
The annual report said revenues amounted to NOK 800 million, with an average price of NOK 67.1 per kg.
The report added: ‘Combined with efforts to mitigate these challenges as well as write downs due to reduced survival, the cost per kg salmon harvested was high in 2018.
‘By improving our smolt quality and continue focusing in initiatives to improve biosecurity and fish welfare, we expect costs to be reduced going forward.
‘The EBIT per kg before fair value adjustments amounted to NOK 2.8 compared to NOK 5.7 in 2017.’
Turning to the group performance as a whole, Kvame said: ‘I am pleased to report that 2018 was another good year for Grieg Seafood.
‘Throughout the year, we significantly advanced our business, delivered solid financial results, and took important steps to position the company for continued sustainable growth.
‘Harvest volumes increased by 20 per cent and reached 75,000 tonnes for the year. Finnmark, Rogaland and British Columbia reached their 2018 targets on volume, cost and smolt transfers to sea. Shetland ended slightly behind target (at 11,924 tonnes).
‘All in all, we are in a strong position to reach our 2020 targets of 100,000 tonnes with a cost at or below industry level.’