In excess of £4 million has been invested since October 2013 when Benchmark Holdings Plc purchased the site and added aquaculture to its suite of FAI farms and research facilities. The enlarged facility, which houses the latest leading-edge technology, will operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for 365 days, as a centre of research and innovation.
The site will provide in-house development services to the Animal Health, Breeding and Genetics and Advanced Animal Nutrition divisions within the Benchmark Group. As well as a range of contract research and production services for industry, government and academia.
On 7 May, the facility marked the milestone anniversary by opening its doors to members of the public, welcoming locals and past employees to tour the new facilities and learn about Ardtoe’s work supporting Scottish and global aquaculture. In the evening a céilidh was held where photos and memorabilia from across the site’s history were on display.
Speaking from the site in Ardtoe, Benchmark Holdings co-founder and FAI Director, Ruth Layton, commented: “With the Scottish industry’s ambitious 2020 sustainable production targets, aquaculture is poised to increase its contribution to the Scottish economy and its role in providing jobs in remote and fragile communities. We are proud to be part of, and be able to support the communities in which we work.
“Benchmark has invested over £4m to transform this unique site into a state-of-the-art facility equipped to support a modern and rapidly growing aquaculture industry here, and further afield, get to grips with the challenge of sustainability.”
Research and trials at the facility will cover a wide variety of marine and freshwater species including finfish (salmon, wrasse and lumpfish), shellfish and microalgae. The facility will also offer training courses and complete support services to farmers and producers to help improve welfare and husbandry protocols and practices for key farmed species.