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A healthy fish is a win-win for all

A healthy fish is a win-win for all

"What’s best for the fish is also best for the customer," says Synne Marte Andersen who is manager for development of grower feeds at Cargill – the feed covering the time from sea transfer to slaughter.

Synne's job includes developing feeds that meet the fish’s different nutritional needs under various conditions, and to follow up on formulation and production concerning what is possible to achieve and the costs.

"Our team is responsible for product specification. We make sure our feeds are as good as they can possibly be. When new knowledge surfaces, for instance about vitamins or raw materials, we include this in the feeds. We set the limits for minimum and maximum raw materials, vitamins and minerals content, and keep register of the limitations for raw materials. We also have to take technical requirements into consideration."

Why do you put the fish first in the work you do?
"It’s essential when composing feed. A fish that doesn’t get what it needs, may develop deficiency diseases or at worst die. If the feed is proper, the fish has the best conditions for it to stay healthy. A feed that is inadequate will also make the fish grow more slowly, and the longer the fish stays in the sea, the higher mortality. So, a fish that grows well means good fish welfare in addition to yielding profit for the farmer. A healthy fish is a win-win for all."

... and how do you do it, specifically?
"We have to know what the fish needs in its present circumstances. Is it a normal healthy fish or does it live under challenging conditions? We map out its nutritional needs, meet these needs and observe how it reacts to different compositions of nutrients. We have ongoing research to better understand the interaction between nutrients. We follow up with testing, and we never include anything in the feed that isn’t tested thoroughly enough. We create studies to observe how the fish responds, and we follow external research to keep up to date. 

The requirements concerning the fish’s need are present no matter what, independent of access to and the cost of raw materials. The fish’s need come first." 

What would happen if you did not prioritize fish health and fish welfare in your work?
"The fish wouldn’t get the best feed it could have had. If we slackened the quality requirements, the fish would be less able to cope with stress and disease, and its quality and growth could get worse.

If the fish doesn’t thrive, it must spend energy on fighting diseases. Then it grows less and mortality increases. This taints the reputation of the entire industry. When we provide feed that increases fish survival and makes the fish look well and healthy, we and the industry alike gain a better reputation.

Keeping fish in the sea is a big risk in itself. If it grows well and reaches the desired size early, it can be harvested earlier and will have shorter exposure time to salmon louse and diseases. This is good fish welfare and it also yields more profit for the fish farmer. Growth isn’t solely profit, it’s welfare too."  

What are the benefits of prioritizing fish health and fish welfare, and for whom?
"Firstly, it benefits the fish itself. When it thrives, it contracts less diseases and suffers less stress, and fewer fish suffer and die unnecessarily. It also benefits the fish farmer, who has more fish to sell. Healthy fish and low mortality also benefit the industry’s reputation and the social economy. Ultimately, it is beneficial to us having quality feeds. That we can vouch for a humane food production also benefits society. We get the most food out of the resources we utilize, and that’s of great importance."

Why should Fish First be an important focus area for the whole of Cargill?
"It’s the core of what we do. We work with fish and must put the fish first, otherwise we fail. If we choose quick solutions and make them as cheap as possible, it will backfire on us. If we don’t deliver to standard, the customer will go somewhere else.

The most important thing is to always be attentive to what the fish needs. That’s the core of what we do and continuously work on through research. We have to understand the fish and compose the ultimate feed for it, because what’s best for the fish is also best for the customer. It’s all closely connected. "