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Technology Meets Biology: Sustainable Smolt Farming

Andrew C Preston PhD | Head of Aquaculture Production


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Demand for Atlantic salmon smolt is rising globally, driving an increase in production. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries indicate that farmed salmon smolt numbers have increased from 151 million in 2005 to approximately 349 million in 2018. Likewise, in Scottish Salmon farming industry smolt numbers increased from 36 million in 2005 to approximately 47 million in 2018. This trend appears to be similar for other salmon producing countries and aquaculture industry, driving the need for development of sustainable salmon farming and smolt production.

Traditional Methods of Salmon Farming

“Traditional” salmon smolt farming was synonymous with seawater-ready salmon smolts at average weight of approx. 120 grams in body weight. Recently, development of salmon farming industry shifted production toward larger smolts, or Post – Smolts, in closed systems. This change aimed to avoid sea lice and mitigate against other salmon smolt health challenges during marine culture.

New Methods for Sustainable Salmon Farming

“Traditional salmon smolt” is becoming a farmed fish of the past. Fish farming and salmon farming companies must keep up with this new trend if it is to be sustainable. At AquaMaof Aquaculture Technologies, our key strategy has been to deliver new smolt farming requirements within a new, sustainable system of land-based farming. Over the past years, we have been focused on the sustainable smolt farming of large salmon smolt, and we dovetail our production systems with Atlantic salmon biology.

For the past three years at our land-based R&D and Training facility in Poland, we’ve received the highest quality salmon eggs on a bimonthly basis.  These eggs undergo the highest biosecurity procedures prior to arrival and, on-site, the strictest biosecurity and veterinary health and welfare plans are implemented.

Standard operating procedures facilitate training and process refinement. “Live” documents are updated regularly to reflect subtle changes in farming husbandry and system management.

Duplication of critical system components and redundancies ensure the welfare of our salmon. Four distinct areas of production, each holding fish of increasing size, are arranged in completely bio-secure rearing units and under constant observation and computerised control. Within each bio-secure unit fish are transferred in and out only after undergoing rigorous health screening.


Unlocking the Potential of Sustainable Smolt Farming

With these methods of refinement, AquaMaof has unlocked the potential of salmon performance and sustainable farming of salmon.

AquaMaof’s land-based technology has proven that modest salmon smolt can be grown into larger smolt “jumbo smolts,” at >1200 grams or larger, in less time than it takes to produce traditional, S1 salmon smolts. As a result, we provide a larger, more robust salmon to sea and reduce required time in seawater.

These salmon farming outcomes and improver biological performance are only achievable using elevated water temperatures and constant illumination, a marked change from traditional farming of salmon.

As a company, we prioritize production figures for our clients, and boast a feed-conversion ratio (FCR) rivalling the most efficient salmon smolt farming producers.

New Methods Exceed Expectations

AquaMaof’s latest batches of smolts supersede all previous batches and the collective package of genetics, optimal feed efficiency, and nutrition, combined with solid husbandry, is certainly raising eyebrows.

The success of AquaMaof’s new sustainable salmon farming methods challenge much of the published data determining company limits and thresholds, impacting important technical parameters that influence growth, weight curves and welfare.

Prioritizing simplicity, with as few moving parts as possible, our sustainable salmon farming systems reduce operating costs, improve efficiency and use only main circulation pumps, without mechanical filters/drums. Our tank design is engineered to promote hydro-cyclone action, maximizing the removal of solids. Robust, ergonomically designed settlers optimize sedimentation and sludge removal. Advanced technology improves flow across biofilters, creating ideal stripping capacity and minimising fowling. Laminar flow ensures salmon welfare, a core value of our company.

Better Technology: Healthy & Larger Fish, Sustainable Fish Farming

Maximal control of water allows for improvements in salmon health. Our biosecurity procedures allow for zero antibiotics, or any other veterinary treatments, apart from the salt bath at inception, a demonstration of our commitment to the highest levels of sanitation in salmon farming.

What’s more, our well-managed, land-based salmon farming system improves fish mortality, which consistently remains very low. Fin quality is rigorously monitored as a welfare indicator, a measure of health in salmon smolts.

Environmental monitoring, control of operations and access to reliable water chemistry data is vital for daily management of sustainable salmon farming. Our on-site, well-equipped laboratory monitors key physiochemical parameters. We conduct real-time, in situ sampling linked to our Human Machine Interface (HMI), providing 24/7 monitoring.


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