Salmon farmer invests heavily in new, cutting-edge freshwater hatchery

Published on
July 7, 2016

Salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms will be investing GBP 35 million (USD 45.4 million, EUR 41.1 million) in its Oban freshwater site, part of an overall GBP 70 million (USD 90.9 million, EUR 82.1 million) in total allocations set for distribution over the next few years.

The company plans to install a new land-based RAS freshwater facility (Recirculating Aquaculture System) at the recently-purchased Marine Resource Center Barcaldine location as a means to rear smolts in bio-secure, environmentally-sound conditions. Scottish Sea Farms also plans to consult the neighboring communities regarding the site’s future development as to promote social sustainable growth. Around 25 skilled jobs will be created to build and run the facility.

“We have ambitious plans for sustainably growing the volumes of salmon we produce to meet increased demand across the world for premium Scottish salmon,” said Jim Gallagher, Scottish Sea Farms managing director. “As part of this, we have been evaluating locations around Scotland to build and develop our freshwater business, and I am delighted that we have found a site that offers an ideal location providing everything we want in terms of power supply, freshwater and connection to the sea. As a result of this investment, Argyll will benefit from high-quality jobs and training opportunities which will include disciplines such as fish husbandry, bio-chemistry and engineering.”

The re-circulation facility will use 90 percent less water than a typical freshwater site, and will perform using optimal energy efficiency, said the company. It will be used to raise smolts until they are ready to be transferred to a sea farm.

“This will be transformational for Scottish Sea Farms, raising our production of smolts from 5 million to 11 million annually, and helping us to meet the rising global demand for our premium Scottish salmon and to grow our harvest volumes and revenues sustainably. It will also further increase our contribution to Scotland’s economic prosperity and the development of our coastal communities,” Gallagher explained.

The site speaks to a promising future for farmed salmon, according to Scotland Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing.

“This announcement is welcome news. It demonstrates long term confidence in the future of the farmed salmon sector in Scotland and reinforces our reputation as a great place to do business,” Ewing said. “ Scotland’s world class fish farming sector generates GBP 1.86 billion (USD 2.42 billion, EUR 2.18 billion) of economic activity every year and supports 8,300 jobs, playing a pivotal role in the rural communities, such as those in the Oban area, where the industry operates. Today’s announcement also underlines Scottish aquaculture’s excellent potential – aided by cutting edge technology and innovation – for further sustainable growth.”

“This is great news for Scottish Sea Farms and for Barcaldine,” added David Smart, Head of Special Projects with HIE in Argyll, who has been involved in discussions with Scottish Sea Farms regarding the new development. “The aquaculture sector creates attractive high value job opportunities, particularly for young people, in rural locations. The creation of 25 permanent posts therefore is a very welcome prospect. We are now exploring with Scottish Sea Farms the potential for education, training and development opportunities linked to this project. This would complement the work that is underway to establish Oban as a university town and strengthen the area’s appeal to young people.”

The company hopes to begin work on the site starting later this year and anticipates the first fish will be reared at the site starting in 2019.

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