So, after 15 years the company is being led by someone else. My role has passed on. Of course it feels significant to me and, rather like someone who has had a leg amputated, I keep wanting to scratch, by wanting to know everything.
My wife and I went on a long trip to allow me to get over 15 years of being the Managing Director and it worked. Now I see it for what it was: a wonderful time working with extraordinary people, achieving things of which I could not have dreamed 20 years ago. So, for the record, I was lucky to have a group of people around me who thought that we were doing the right thing. I am proud and lucky to have been thought of as useful in such a team.
The big question that I face is how to be useful in my new role as a Director. There are ideas and suggestions but generally I am to look for new and better ways forward for farming the sea and to find ways of sharing what we do with the world. It is an exciting role defined only by the limits of imagination.
Oh……and of course cash!
Loch Duart has always looked at new ideas but of course it becomes harder and harder to find the big, new, bold initiatives that seemed so clear when the company first started. Yet they are there.
The control of sea lice is an obvious area to start and we are trialling new concepts and new ideas. It is fantastic to see so many of these ideas being generated on the farm, exactly where they should be. Our people are going to see other farms and learning from them whilst extrapolating the ideas and developing ideas generated on farm. For someone who worked at sea and learned all he knows at sea, this is all I could ever have hoped for.
Feed is another big area to look at. Our feed has always concentrated on the natural diet of salmon and tried to emulate it. Fishmeal and fish oil are natural ingredients and they should be fed to fish if they are going to be fished. Sadly they are becoming more unreliable as China’s uptake for pigs and poultry varies so much and as the aquaculture industry grows. From an ethical standpoint it is easy to say we must find an alternative but an alternative that fits the “natural diet” whilst remaining sustainable is very difficult. The one thing that is clear is that the ‘wild-caught’ option is running out not because the populations are unsustainable but because the control of fishing is making sure that supply is limited and protects the stocks.
So, “Where to go?” is the big question which will occupy my thoughts and research over the next period as we have to find an ethical answer. One thing is for sure, if ever a policy starts in Loch Duart that we should use a high vegetable content or use some form of GM, I will be a long way away. But then I know that no-one else at Loch Duart would sanction such a move either.
These are just a couple of the things that will be occupying me over the next period and I hope to bring you some more ideas as time passes. Thanks to all those who have made the last years so special and I hope I can lean on you again in the future to make this company even greater than it is now.