Ardtoe Reprieve Hopes Rise –

Ardtoe Reprieve Hopes Rise Fish Farming Today Published:  02 July, 2003

THERE is growing optimism that the fisheries research unit at Ardtoe in Ardnamurchan will be saved from closure and that most of the 18 jobs will be safeguarded.

The Seafish Industry Authority which owns the facility confirmed in February that it wanted to pull out, following pressure from the catching sector which pays the majority of Seafish funding through an industry levy. Seafish set a deadline of the end of July for an alternative operator to be found, before it ended its funding support of £1m a year.

It is understood that the Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunstaffnage near Oban is at an advanced stage of negotiations to take over the Ardtoe unit. The takeover would join two marine research units and would allow the Ardtoe operation to be streamlined and run more efficiently . Ardtoet has contributed research into marine aquaculture, including the rearing of new species such as cod, haddock and halibut, as well as the rearing of shellfish. It has also worked on the development of fish vaccines, dietary regimes, live feed production techniques and the environmental effects of aquaculture.

Local councillor Michael Foxley, who fought hard for the unit to remain open, said: “The chief executive of Lochaber Ltd, Charlotte Wright, has done a tremendous amount of work to try to get a rescue package together. These are very high quality jobs in an area where there are few alternative sources of employment and I am optimistic most can be retained. “