Salmon Fishing in Scotland

Here’s a short story of me joining the famous Wester Ross Salmon farmers up in Ullapool in the Highlands of Scotland.

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This is Mark trying to teach me how to drive a boat through Ardmair Bay on the shores of Loch Kanaird. I guess he was quite happy to get back in control after me steering straight away towards a massive rock.
Ardmair
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But first we met at their boat house five kilometers north of Ullapool to get into proper fishing outfits. The sea around Isle Martin can be rough so I was pretty glad we had a sunny start to the day.
Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd
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Wester Ross Salmon is one of the oldest independent family run fisheries in Scotland. They have been hand-rearing salmon in the rugged north-western Highlands since 1977 and are one of the most impressive examples of ethical farming.
Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd
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Matthew Zietz is one of their marine biologists who watches every day over the quality of the water and the hand-rearing as well as examining all fish throughout their three years of life. That’s six times longer than in other fishing farms.
Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd
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Off we go!
Isle Martin
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First stop close to Isle Martin where fisherman Mark and biologist Matthew hope to catch some wrasse. In the wild, there exists a relationship between salmon and another smaller fish that share the same habitat — the wrasse. Wrasse are “cleaner fish,” and they have evolved to eat the sea lice directly off the salmon without causing harm or distress. In fact, wrasse like eating sea lice so much that they make it their mission to find every last one.
Isle Martin
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This is Mark pulling up little fishing cages especially designed for not hurting the wrasse when being caught.
Ardmair
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These guys are hoping for some too
Ardmair
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Beautiful but not needed - this little one is allowed back to its place where it was just swimming about.
Ardmair
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There we go - carefully trapped and then released into the pens at the farm, they swim freely among the salmon and get to work using their powerful jaws to eat the lice directly off of the salmon’s skin. These little fish are so efficient that one wrasse can easily tend to 50 salmon.
Ardmair
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Back to the farm. Their sites are monitored on a continual basis for environmental impact, with formal measuring of seabed impact taking place on an annual basis. Local fishermen are even enjoying the benefits of our activity as the areas close to the salmon pens providing ideal sheltered areas for wild fish and shellfish stock enhancement. Hence, when the sites are moved, the fishermen experience good catches.
Ullapool
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Matthew explaining the feed. They eat a custom diet containing trimmings of fish for human consumption that were landed in the northeast Atlantic. Because of this custom feed, Wester Ross salmon have one of the world’s best FIFO (fish in, fish out) ratios of less than 1:1, greatly reducing dependency on wild fish.
Ullapool
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And this is what they grow into. Careful, humane harvesting methods in accordance with RSPCA Assured guidelines avoid stress to the fish and ensure the best quality salmon. The processing facility is in Dingwall, where the salmon are cleaned and filleted by hand to customer specifications. Despatch from the processing plant is within 24 hours of harvest. Most famous customers are the Queen, Albert of Monaco and the White House.
Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd
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Smoked and simple. Moist, buttery, delicious flavours of the sea.
Highlands