Scottish Sea Farms to Invest 35m in Argyll RAS Hatchery

25 July 2016, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND, UK - Salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms is to invest 35 million in a major freshwater site near Oban. This investment is part of a total 70 million spend anticipated over the next few years and will create up to 25 permanent high-value skilled jobs.

The company plans to build a new land-based RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) freshwater facility at the newly purchased MRC Barcaldine site for rearing young salmon smolts in bio-secure and environmentally friendly conditions.

Jim Gallagher, Scottish Sea Farms Managing Director, commented on the acquisition: “We have ambitious plans for sustainably growing the volumes of salmon we produce to meet increased demand across the world for premium Scottish salmon. 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.”

In designing and developing this re-circulation facility, Scottish Sea Farms will deploy best practice in fish health and husbandry, production and environmental impact. The planned facility will use 90 per cent less water than traditional freshwater sites, and will deliver significantly improved energy efficiency. The facility will be used to rear smolts until they are ready to transfer to sea farms.

Jim Gallagher added: “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.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, said: “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. Scotland’s world class fish farming sector generates £1.86 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.”

David Smart, Head of Special Projects with HIE in Argyll, has been in close discussions with the company over the plans.

He said: “This is great news for Scottish Sea Farms and for Barcaldine. 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.”

Following the period of consultation Scottish Sea Farms hope to begin work on the site later this year, with the first fish reared in the new facility entering the water in 2019.