Council is interested in first Ocean Farm plans

Major milestone for Scottish Sea Farms’ new hatchery as first smolts go safely out to sea pens. NO_T50_Barcaldine smolts to sea
December last year saw a major milestone for Scottish Sea Farms’ new hatchery when its first smolts went out to sea pens. NO_T50_Barcaldine smolts to sea

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Argyll and Bute Council would be ‘interested’ to hear Scottish Sea Farms plans for the country’s first ocean farm.

This week Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) announced it was looking to trial the ocean farm idea as the next step in its ongoing push to maximise fish survival and minimise environmental footprint.

To get it moving, SSF said it was ‘eager’ to open the dialogue with Marine Scotland,  the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and local authorities to see if  its ambition is matched and its ‘aspiration of piloting a full-scale ‘ocean farm’ can be realised.’

Argyll and Bute Council has confirmed to The Oban Times it would be interested to hear more about the idea.

The proposed ocean farm would be Scottish Sea Farms’ second sizeable capital investment after last year’s completion of the company’s £58M Barcaldine Hatchery growing bigger, healthier and more robust smolts that are better able to withstand  natural challenges in the environment.

An Argyll and Bute spokesperson said: ‘Aquaculture is highlighted as one of the key sectors in Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal as a means of developing the local economy and creating jobs. We welcomed Scottish Sea Farms £58m investment at Barcaldine and would be interested to hear Scottish Sea Farm’s ideas for future investment utilising new technologies.’

With aquaculture regularly cited by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation as having a crucial role to play in achieving a world without hunger and malnutrition, the focus for every salmon farmer is how best to scale-up to deliver this, says SSF.

Its Managing Director Jim Gallagher said: ‘Over recent years, the scope of this work has widened to include the potential of more exposed locations; locations that could add to the volumes of salmon grown at our existing 42-strong farming estate. For this ambition to be realised however, we need an engaged, robust and forward-thinking regulatory framework that enables Scotland’s salmon farmers to continue growing in a responsible manner and helps the sector reclaim its competitiveness on the world stage.

‘With this in mind, we’re eager to take the next step by opening the dialogue with Marine Scotland, SEPA  and local authorities to see if this ambition is matched and if our aspiration of piloting a full-scale ‘ocean farm’ can be realised.’

Providing the multi-million pound investment needed to develop the concept, if given the go-ahead, would be Scottish Sea Farms’ Norwegian owner Norskott Havbruk AS.

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said it was exactly the kind of landmark inward investment opportunity that Scotland needs to thrive and grow and he was ‘determined’ the country seizes it.

Ocean Farm 1, the world’s first offshore  Ocean fish farm, is anchored in the Trøndelag region of central Norway and cost £60m.