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Mowi Scotland is offering to relocate two ‘contentious’ inshore sites to new locations off the shores of the Isle of Muck and the Isle of Rum.
The salmon farming giant is planning to shut down its operations at Loch Ewe and Loch Duich, situated in enclosed sea lochs near sensitive wild salmonid habitats, in exchange for the Small Isles sites.
Mowi, formerly known as Marine Harvest, already operates two offshore sites off Muck and Rum and Steve Robertson, development officer at the Isle of Rum Community Trust, said the island is open to the fish farm company’s plans.
‘Mowi’s impact been wholly positive so far,’ he said. ‘ Jobs, investment and housing have been brought into the community. And they are easy to deal with. Currently they are consulting on plans to expand the existing farm and the community seem generally supportive of this.’
The move comes as the Norwegian-owned company said it is seeking to operate in locations ‘more appropriate for modern day aquaculture’.
Ben Hadfield, managing director of Mowi Scotland said: ‘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, while securing reduced impact on the environment and further developing the significant economic contribution that it makes to rural Scotland,’ said
He continued: ‘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. Our ambition is to close contentious locations, jointly working with wild fishery managers.’
The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee published a report last autumn which recommended that 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.
Working to align its operations with these recommendations, Mowi’s head of environmental management, Stephen MacIntyre, said that the company has plans to grow its fish production levels over the next few years by expanding into ‘new, high energy farming areas’ located further offshore.
Ben Hadfield. NO F29 Mowi Hadfield
Mowi’s offshore farm at Muck – the company plans to expand production. NO F29 Mowi Small Isles