Barcaldine hatchery welcomes first school visit 

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Staff at Scottish Sea Farms’ Barcaldine Hatchery hosted their first school visit after the easing of Covid restrictions.

Pupils and teachers from nearby Barcaldine Primary School were given a guided tour of the facility, starting with a talk about salmon farming and the role of the freshwater hatchery in the salmon lifecycle.

Barcaldine Primary Pupils on tour of the Scottish Sea Farm hatchery
Barcaldine Primary School pupils find out about salmon farming during a visit to Scottish Sea Farm’s new hatchery

Scottish Sea Farms Head of Freshwater Rory Conn, who led the school visit, said: ‘The children were really engaged from the word go, asking everything from ‘What do farmed salmon eat?’ and ‘How do you vaccinate a fish?’ to ‘Why does the boat that carries the fish in water out to farm not sink?’. It was great to see such interest and curiosity.’

The questions kept coming during the tour itself, said Rory.

‘We walked the children through each key stage of the hatchery process, explaining and discussing along the way our work to minimise any impact from our farming activities on the environment.

‘This includes recirculating aquaculture technology that reduces water consumption and recycles waste, a biomass energy system that saves 683 tonnes of carbon annually, as well as the smaller yet equally green initiatives such as wind and solar powered external lighting and electric vehicle charging points.’

The charging points are available to the school and wider community to use.

At the end of the tour, pupils and teachers were invited to taste salmon grown exclusively by Scottish Sea Farms for M&S.

To help them remember what they had learned during their visit, they were then set the challenge of drawing their favourite part of the hatchery.

‘Just like the interest and engagement shown on the day, their drawings were every bit as impressive, making it particularly hard for the team to pick just two winners,’ said Rory, who added: ‘So in the end, we settled on three.’

Winning a £50 Amazon gift voucher among the primary one to four category was eight-year-old Lois for her drawing of the hatchery’s motion-sensitive internal lighting, while joint winners of the primary five to seven category were 10-year-olds Eva and Orion for their drawings of the water-saving and waste-recycling technology in the growing areas.

The school group was also presented with a framed photograph of their visit to mark the occasion.

The new hatchery hopes that with Scotland having now moved to beyond level zero, more schools and community groups from the area will be able to visit.

The hatchery’s building works had just been completed as Covid hit the UK in early 2020.

Caption: Pupils from Barcaldine Primary School visit Scottish Sea Farms’ nearby hatchery