Salmon farming company Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) is to open a new £48 million Freshwater Hatchery at Barcaldine near Oban, with the aim of further improving how fish are farmed in Scotland.
The onshore hatchery will supply smolts – young salmon – to the SSF’s 40 farms across Scotland’s west coast, Orkney and Shetland. Through industry-leading research and development (R&D) work carried out there, it will also help the company tackle a range of challenges affecting the fish farming sector today, by enhancing fish health and welfare, improving its environmental credentials, ensuring a more secure and reliable supply of salmon, and increasing harvest volumes to better meet growing global demand.
In order to assist with this pioneering work, and help the facility become a centre of excellence in its sector, SSF has received £1.28 million in R&D support from Scottish Enterprise. In addition to supporting the work at Barcaldine the funds will help the company develop new, innovative processes and technologies across all its sites – such as data capture and analysis to drive efficiencies, developing more humane processes, recycling a greater proportion of by-products and harvesting wind and wave energy to reduce reliance on fuel.
The investment was welcomed by Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes MSP, who visited the site of the new facility today. She said: “Scotland has a thriving food and drink sector with salmon exports alone growing by 35 per cent during 2017, recognising the global reputation for our quality produce.
“Ensuring that the sector grows in a sustainable way remains a priority for us. It is great to see an ambitious and respected company like Scottish Sea Farms investing in innovation to improve environmental control, health issues and production efficiencies. I’d like to congratulate the company on raising the bar, and wish them every success on their sustainable growth journey.”
Kirsteen Binnie, who has led Scottish Enterprise’s engagement with SSF since 2010, added: “Scottish Sea Farms is already a national success story, employing more than 430 people across the country. Its hunger to farm evermore responsibly is driving forward this latest project – the first of its kind in the sector – which will not only create a state-of-the-art new hatchery in Barcaldine and create new jobs in Scotland, but also reinforces our strong, innovative and forward-thinking food and drink sector.
“We have worked intensively with the company since 2010, helping it deliver innovation, business improvements and international activity. During this time, we’ve seen it grow to become the second largest salmon producer in the UK. With this latest support, SSF can continue to go from strength to strength and deliver its future ambition.”
Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director, Jim Gallagher, said: “Researching and developing new approaches and technologies is key to ensuring that we continue raising the healthiest fish in the most responsible but also the most environmentally sustainable way, and this latest £48m investment aims to advance our work in both areas.
“The £1.28m grant from Scottish Enterprise means that we will be able to do more of this planned R&D even sooner, accelerating both the innovation and the anticipated benefits for fish health and welfare and for the environment.”
Working closely with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Sea Farms to deliver this project, Highlands and Islands Enterprise area manager for Argyll and the Islands, Jennifer Nicoll said: “Fish farming is already a key employer in the region, and the location of this new freshwater hatchery at Barcaldine is really good news for Oban and Argyll.
“It brings not only high-quality employment, benefitting from a world-class marine business and research cluster literally just down the road at the European Marine Science Park, but in addition its research will help drive business innovation and improve salmon production, all of which contributes to supporting our rural and coastal economy.”
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