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Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford has expressed support for the aquaculture industry following his first visit to an operational fish farm on Skye.
The MP visited Organic Sea Harvest’s sites at Invertote and Culnacnoc on Friday July 2 along with Hamish Macdonell, Director of Strategic Engagement at The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO).
‘I was impressed with the whole thing,’ he said.
‘A company employing 18 people on a full-time basis is making an important contribution to the local economy. I understand people have reservations and we have to embrace that but it’s clear there are community benefits – which we are seeing in the north-east of the island.’
Organic Sea Harvest is the only salmon farming company in Scotland to focus solely on producing organic salmon through reducing stock density and providing a carefully-selected environment which it says results in strong, healthy fish that meet organic standards. Both sites are certified as organic by the UK Soil Association.
Mr Blackford and Mr Macdonnell met with Organic Sea Harvest’s co-founder Alister Mackinnon, recently-appointed chief operating officer, Robert Wyvill, Invertote farm manager Robaidh Halliday and Lorna MacRae as they toured the sites, visited the feed barge and observed the salmon.
The company hopes to provide a further nine full-time jobs – seven farm workers and two boat workers – if an appeal against planning refusal for a site at Balmaqueen proves successful. Objections had been raised regarding the potential visual impact of the site. A decision on the appeal will be made later this month.
‘I said previously that I was disappointed planning permission was not granted and I hope the appeal is successful,’ added Mr Blackford.
‘It’s important for the local economy, supply chain jobs and investment in the local community. We need to make sure the Highlands and Islands are a place where people can put down roots and earn a decent living.’
Organic Sea Harvest co-founder, Alister Mackinnon, stated: ‘This was a great opportunity for Ian Blackford as our MP to see an operational site for the first time and to get an in-depth knowledge of how we are working to achieve our aim of becoming the world’s leading producer of organic salmon.’