FARMED cod are being harvested for the first time ever today (April 8th) at a cod farm in the Western Isles in a move which could help alleviate the crash in natural stocks.
The fish farm has managed to get around the formidable problems associated with breeding cod, specifically that the fish have eaten each other in previous experiments.
Scientists have now worked out how to feed the tiny codlings so that they do not turn cannibal, and with 35,000 codling on the farm at any one time, the owners are confident that the business will prove a major success.
The Shetland codling are hatched and grown-on in salmon cages and the first batch has already been sold to the restaurant trade in the
. Owner Ivor Johnson is confident he will soon by supplying the British restaurant trade.
He says it’s not a question of whether he can produce enough fish, but simply whether he can keep costs low enough so that he can make the venture profitable.  
The Johnson family pioneered what is now Shetland’s massive salmon farming industry and their firm produces two million farmed salmon a year.
However prices are so depressed in that market that they say they are making a loss on the farmed salmon.
The Johnsons say they plan to start the main harvest of some 12,000 5lb fish in September. These fish will be two years old.
So confident are the family of growing cod successfully they have ordered 600,000 tiny codling – which is the entire output of the only cod hatchery in
The tiny codlings each weigh just 30grammes and cost £1. Including the cost of feed and rearing, the family will spend over £3.5m before they get back any money from sales in 2005.
The number of cod spawning in the
North Sea is thought to be only around 30,000. Some 70,000 tonnes are thought to be needed to ensure survival of the species.