Loch Ewe and Loch Duich are two sites the company has identified as candidates for relocation due to the enclosed nature of the sea lochs where the farms are situated and the sites’ proximity to sensitive wild salmonid habitats.
“Mowi has strived to improve relations with the wild fish sector and has been clear that it will seek to expand its operations in Scotland, whilst securing reduced impact on the environment and further developing the significant economic contribution that it makes to rural Scotland,” says Ben Hadfield, managing director of Mowi Scotland.
“In absence of a regulatory framework that enables relocation of a farm’s biomass, we are wanting to engage with our government, environmental groups and salmon fishery boards to pursue this opportunity,” Hadfield continues. “The sites will be closed permanently conditional to the support from our regulatory system to transfer the biomass to other locations, and to sustainably expand our production in the best possible areas for salmon farming thus protecting the associated jobs.”
Mowi’s head of environmental management, Stephen MacIntyre, further explains: “We want to align our growth plans with the Scottish Parliament's Rural Economy & Connectivity (REC) Committee’s recent recommendations and have plans to sustainably grow our fish production levels over the next few years by expanding into new high-energy farming areas located further offshore.”
The REC Committee report, released in the autumn of 2018, recommended the Scottish Government discuss with salmon farm companies the potential to minimise risk to wild salmon and to improve the locations of existing farms and grow production in a sustainable way. Mowi is a leader in Scotland for farming in high-energy sites, with two new locations off the shores of the Isle of Muck and the Isle of Rum utilising the latest infrastructure and technology to raise salmon safely in challenging sea conditions.
“We welcome Mowi’s recognition that enclosed sea lochs near to sensitive wild salmonid habitat can increase localised impact on wild salmonids,” says Bill Whyte, Convener for Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board. “We will expect further clarity about the process of biomass relocation, however, if Mowi can provide evidence through EIA planning and SEPA regulatory structure that the relocated biomass will have reduced potential impact on wild migratory fish, then we would be prepared to support biomass relocation on a conditional basis.”
“We have spoken to farm staff at both locations to assure them their employment can continue with the company at other new or expanded locations,” Hadfield adds. “Our ambition is to close contentious locations, jointly working with wild fishery managers. We will create increased employment and retain our experienced and dedicated staff, and we will work with west coast Scottish communities to release all the value from farming Mowi salmon in the best possible locations.
“Success for this relocation initiative will be a net increase in production, a net increase in export value for Scotland and a net reduction in our environmental footprint at sensitive locations. Scotland’s potential exit from the EU is challenging for us, and as a major and growing employer in the country, we will do our utmost to retain and develop our experienced staff.”