Gigha Halibut set to cease production
The producers of an award-winning halibut farm on the west coast of Scotland have said that the current stock will not be replenished once it has been harvested.
Gigha Halibut, which was founded 15 years ago, gathered a number of celebrity commendations and awards, including retailer Waitrose’s “Made in Britain” award in 2009 and Best Scottish Product in the Great Taste Awards, in 2015.
The directors of Gigha’s parent company, Holt Fish Farms, say a number of factors have made the enterprise no longer viable, however. Chief among the problems have been rising energy costs for the land-based RAS (recirculating aquaculture systems) farm and biological challenges arising from climate change. Difficulty in securing deep water intake for the plant was also a factor.
Gigha Halibut operates on the small island of Gigha, off the Kintyre peninsula. The plant has a total volume in excess of 10,000 cubic metres with a pumping capacity of 5,000 litres per second. It is powered by local renewable energy and has a dedicated seafood processing unit. The Gigha farm was built as a land-based site for rearing salmon, in 1986, and has been a focus for onshore aquaculture for nearly 40 years.
The company said: “The Directors of HFF have taken the decision to no longer stock the fish farm on Gigha with juvenile halibut. The remaining halibut stock will be harvested out between now and March next year.”
The statement added: “We hope this may not be the end of fish farming on the site and the directors are evaluating various alternative species and uses that may be more suited to the changing conditions around Gigha.”
The associated Otter Ferry Seafish marine hatchery on Loch Fyne will continue to produce halibut juveniles for customers elsewhere and will seek to identify potential sites suitable for halibut farming elsewhere in Scotland.
Alastair Barge, Managing Director at Otter Ferry, said: “It’s very sad indeed , with the effort that’s gone into it and the position the product commanded because of its quality and provenance.”
HFF is promoting the site as a unique “bluefield” opportunity for a fish farmer looking to rear another species on Gigha.