Nick Nairn, acclaimed chef and ambassador of Scottish food, travelled to Scourie in Sutherland today to open Loch Duart’s new Freedom Food approved hatchery – the first purpose built salmon hatchery to be approved to the highest welfare standard in the world.

The hatchery, whose initial design was developed in consultation with the Freedom Food farm animal welfare scheme, cost £600,000 to build – the single biggest investment that Loch Duart has made in its nine year history.

Designed to minimise handling of fish, it uses world-leading technology to feed and protect the smolts and will mean that the fish will almost never leave water throughout their lives.

‘Our entire investment has been about securing the best welfare environment for our fish. That’s why we consulted with Freedom Food at the design stage – seeking their opinion on what would make the best welfare environment for our smolts. We are really proud of the results – and we believe that we now have the ability to produce the healthiest smolts in the industry,’ says Nick Joy, managing director of Loch Duart.

Twelve years in the planning, the hatchery was built using local suppliers and contractors wherever possible, to maximise the advantage to the local people and will help to keep Loch Duart, already a big local employer, at the forefront of the marketplace – thus securing jobs for the future.

Nick Nairn comments: ‘It is fantastic to see producers such as Loch Duart working with Freedom Food, to ensure such high standards of welfare for the salmon they produce. The salmon industry is so important to Scotland and it’s essential that we support producers, who go to such lengths to produce such high quality salmon. I have been saying for years that good welfare practice inevitably results in a better product and better eating quality.’

Leigh Grant, Freedom Food’s chief executive, says: ‘We congratulate Loch Duart on yet another excellent welfare-focused initiative. They have always been proactive and played a leading role in bringing about improvements in fish welfare.’ is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.