Johnson Seafarms is set to have a steady annual 6,000 tonnes of premium organic cod coming to harvest a year from now. It will also produce 400t of organic mussels from October and currently harvests 200t of farmed Shetland sea trout.
The farm diversified as brothers Ivor and Angus Johnson felt exposed to harsh market conditions while they depended entirely on salmon, of which they now produce 2,000 tonnes. Diversifying into cod involved a simple species switch for existing capacity.
Ivor Johnson said: “The other salmon farmers have tried to cut
their costs but that is just chasing your tail. Cutting costs means cutting quality.”
Scottish cod farming is viewed as having huge potential to relieve wild stocks once rearing issues have been fully
resolved. Johnson Seafarms’ cod will be aimed at restaurants and premium fishmongers.
UK fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw was pushed for more cash help for Shetland’s aquaculture diversification when he visited the farm. Shetland Salmon Farmers Association representatives told the minister more cash was needed to develop the industry and drive further diversification.
The SSFA also wants a level playing field with other countries in terms of regulatory and licensing costs.
Johnson said he wanted to see the government restrict cheap salmon imports.
Johnson Seafarms is set to receive organic accreditation from the Organic Food Federation. It is also working with the RSPCA to achieve Freedom Food status for its products.
Cod farming operations across Scotland have been tipped to produce 25,000t to 30,000t in the next 10 years.