A new trout hatchery and accompanying sea cage site is ramping up production on these remote islands in the south Atlantic Ocean.
The pilot project funded by a local commercial investor, Fortuna Ltd, will assess the potential of breeding and growing-out brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the Falkland Islands.
The trout are not native to the islands, but were successfully introduced by settlers in the 1940s. They now thrive in the islands’ rivers where broodstock for the hatchery are taken using electrofishing.
Running the project for Fortuna is Simon Hardcastle who worked at Kames Fish Farming in Scotland during the early 1980s, and who previously led a trial operation farming salmon and mussels in the Falklands.
The hatchery was originally built with the assistance of Brendan Gara who was contracted from the UK for three years by FIDC (The Falkland Islands Development Corporation) to further develop inshore aquaculture in the Falkland Islands. After several years the project was closed but later reactivated with the funding from Fortuna.
“I currently work alone and run the small hatchery and sea cage site,” says Hardcastle, “and am just about to start an EU standard fish processing plant to enable exports.”
The small water-recirculating hatchery, not far from the capital of Stanley, uses eggs sourced from the captured broodstock. And from these eggs reared in a plastic tunnel hatchery, Hardcastle produces brown trout juveniles which are transferred to two 50-metre-diameter Fusion Marine Aquaflex pens located in Fitzroy Sound, south west of Port Stanley.
“At the recycle hatchery I use water from the general public mains supply,” writes Hardcastle in an email to Hatchery International. “This water is held in a separate tank open to the elements leaching any impurities before I send it into the hatchery. I have installed extra tanks to increase production to 10,000 smolts. The first fish went to sea last October 2013 and are expected to reach 500 gms by the end of May 2014.”
If the trial goes well as expected, Futura intends to expand further in the future.
Peter Richardson, general manager for Kames Fish Farming, confirmed for Hatchery International that the initial consignment of juveniles from the hatchery has been doing well. He said that the farm has the advantage that there are no other farms within hundreds of miles and the fish from the rivers and streams are disease-free.
One challenge will be keeping the many predators at bay. The islands are well populated with high numbers of sea lions and penguins and different kinds of birds who love to eat fish. Another challenge is that the distant location of the islands can make them difficult to access and supply.
Fusion Marine has supplied the company with ‘Aquaflex’ pens, while Scotland’s Kames Fish Farming has provided transport tanks, crowding ring, handling nets, navigation lights and mounting system, as well as solar powered automatic feeders assistance in the installation of the farm.
- Quentin Dodd