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Jobs Boost for Western Isles

Salmonids Economics Politics +3 more

SCOTLAND - Salmon farming company Marine Harvest is set to create more than 40 jobs in the Western Isles as it announces plans to invest 40 million to expand its Scottish operation by developing new farming locations further off shore.

The new system of “Open Sea” farming will see crews of up to six living on residential barges at fish farms off the west coast, working a shift pattern.

The company hopes to take advantage of the growing demand for farmed Scottish salmon across Europe. Consumption of fish has been rising by between six and eight percent each year.

Marine Harvest Scotland representatives were in the Western Isles yesterday (Tuesday 6 October) to outline their plans to the council and community representatives. The plan would bring more than 40 jobs to the islands.

As Alan Sutherland, Managing Director of Marine Harvest Scotland explained: “The time is right for the next generation of Scottish salmon farming. The demand for our product is there and we know the quality is there. This is the time and place for expansion.

“We have been looking at the opportunities that exist and believe the future of fish farming lies further off-shore. This is possible if we use residential fish farms similar to the systems which we already use in Norway and British Columbia where I previously worked,” he added.

Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for the Environment, said: "Inward investment can help Scotland’s already flourishing aquaculture industry hit new heights, and I am encouraged to see a global aquaculture company like Marine Harvest do just that.

"With the current economic backdrop, investment to protect, support and create jobs is vital to the rural economies in which many aquaculture businesses operate.

"Aquaculture is the key to sustainably meet growing global demand for fish, and we are committed to working with the industry to safeguard the aquaculture sector which is currently worth £350 million to our economy."

Marine Harvest has permission from The Crown Estate to place monitoring equipment in 12 sites around the Minch, within the Western Isles, Highland and Argyll and Bute Council areas. The equipment will gather data which will allow them to assess the best sites for expansion. They will then submit planning applications to the relevant local authority for their preferred sites.

The company hope to develop four new farms around three times the size of the average farm, producing an additional 20,000 tonnes of fish. The company is aiming to stock the new farms by September 2012.

As well as the staff working on the residential fish farms, the company hopes to establish a shore base in Barra.

Marine Harvest Scotland has a turnover of £120m and hopes to increase this to £180 million with the introduction of the new farms. The total investment will be more than £40m, with the capital cost for each farm being more than £3 million.