Marine Harvest Scotland 50 Years Editor’s welcome
In 1919 Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland. Fifty years later, Boeing was test flying the 747, an aircraft that signalled a new dawn for commercial aviation, which today is a highly technological, and highly regulated, multi-billion pound industry. The similarities between aviation and salmon farming are striking. Like the early aviators, the pioneers at Marine Harvest based their efforts on an idea – a belief that salmon could be farmed on a commercial basis. And, just as the early aviators were told that mechanised flight could not be done, in the ‘60s all of the experts approached by Marine Harvest said the same thing: salmon simply could not be farmed. However, part of the pioneering spirit includes flying in the face of the perceived wisdom of the day and Marine Harvest, just like Alcock and Brown, carried on regardless. The rest, as they say, is history.
There is one key difference between aviation and salmon farming. Whilst the evolution of aviation has been the result of numerous individuals and companies, each building on the ideas and technologies that have come before, the evolution of salmon farming in Scotland was initiated, developed and perfected by one company – Marine Harvest. And this evolution, from one small salmon farm – the UK’s first – that produced a modest 14 tonnes in its first harvest to, by the end of this year, 56 sites (47 sea water and 9 freshwater) producing upwards of 50,000 tonnes annually, is extraordinary.
The fortunes of Marine Harvest Scotland have been intimately tied to those of the Scottish industry in general. Indeed, the company has been instrumental in developing the reputation of the Scottish brand, and securing Scottish salmon’s position as a premium product. As such, the celebration of Marine Harvest Scotland’s success is also a celebration of the whole of the Scottish salmon industry, which by working collaboratively continues to go from strength to strength. The following pages tell the fascinating story of Marine Harvest Scotland’s incredible journey from a small company that began in 1965 with the concept of growing salmon commercially – which it developed through research, hard work, experience and innovation into a hugely successful process – to one that has matured into the largest salmon farming company in the world. The telling of this story could not have been possible without the assistance of Marine Harvest Scotland, which provided archival documents, images and a wealth of invaluable information regarding its operations over the years. I would also like to thank all of the individuals who took the time and effort to provide me with the many personal photographs that can be seen within this special edition.
However, it is the Marine Harvest employees – from the pioneers, whose skill, commitment and dedication were integral to the early years, to the men and women, past and present, who have all played their part in the company’s development – that I have had the privilege to interview who provided the real added-value. It is their shared experiences, memories, and photographs that have shaped this issue, and made the process of researching and writing it such a pleasure. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did putting it together.
The celebration of Marine Harvest Scotland’s success is also a celebration of the whole of the Scottish salmon industry”