A new body aimed at promoting standards in organic aquaculture in the UK and Europe has been set up in Aberdeen.
The European Organic Fish Producers Association is an industry-led initiative and was formed following a recent meeting by representatives of British salmon and trout farms, and processors and representatives of feed companies in Aberdeen, who concluded that there was a need for strong, but workable internationally-recognised standards.
In recent years, interest in the production of farmed fish by organic methods has grown and, following many discussions, standards for farming and processing salmon and trout have been developed in the UK and other countries.
Representatives from the British salmon and trout farms now producing and selling fish to these interim standards recently met with processors and representatives of feed companies in Aberdeen in order to share views on the current situation and identify ways of progressing organic aquaculture.
They began by reviewing the interim standards produced by the Soil Association and recording their comments on these standards and their practical application. Areas such as pigmentation and slaughter methods where research and development is needed to improve and strengthen the standards were identified.
Director of Orkney Salmon, Kirsty McCallum, said: “We at the Orkney Salmon Company feel that it is vitally important during this development phase for organic aquaculture, that all those directly involved in the cutting edge of this movement – the growers, feed companies and processors – should have a forum for sharing experiences and advancing standards.
“We welcome the prospect of a growing membership from others who may already be working towards organic production.”
Dr Lindsay Laird, of the University’s Department of Zoology, will chair the new Association, which will work closely with the Aberdeen University Centre for Organic Agriculture, opened in October by HRH The Prince of Wales. Annabel Small of Lechdale Trout Farm is the Vice-Chairman of the Association.
Dr Laird, who is an expert on salmon management and aquaculture, is a member of the Scottish Office Fisheries Committee, the Scottish Office Salmon Strategy Task Force and the Council/Bureau European Aquaculture Society.
She said: “Organic vegetables, fruit and meat are an increasingly familiar and welcome feature of many food counters and the benefits of organic production systems are becoming ever more widely appreciated.
“There was a general feeling of optimism and excitement over the future development of organic aquaculture and anticipation that the group could work together to promote a universally acceptable standard.”