‘Don’t underestimate importance of salmon farming’

Mowi's Mick Watts (left) with Ian Blackford at the Kyleakin pier

SCOTLAND should never underestimate the importance of the salmon farming industry to rural areas, said MP Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, as he opened new pier facilities at Mowi’s Kyleakin feed plant on Skye this morning.

The newly refurbished and extended pier means both ingredients and the final feed product can be transported by sea, keeping road haulage to a minimum.

The official opening marks a major milestone towards final completion of the feed plant, which is currently undergoing testing as part of its commissioning phase.

The plant will produce fish feed to supply Mowi’s salmon farms across the western Highlands and islands of Scotland, as well as Ireland, Norway and the Faroe Islands.

It will provide for a range of salmon diets, including organic feed for Ireland and Scotland, as well as specialist broodstock and freshwater feeds. The plant has the capacity to produce 170,000 tonnes of feed pellets a year.

Blackford, the member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: ‘We should never underestimate the importance of the salmon farming industry to this part of the world.

‘We are passionate about creating opportunities for young people and their families to live here and the salmon industry is playing an important role in that.

‘Food and drink are an important part of Scotland’s economy going forward and salmon is now our largest food export.’

Mowi Scotland, formerly Marine Harvest Scotland, originally announced plans to build a feed plant at the Altanavaig quarry site at Kyleakin in 2016 and planning permission was granted in early 2017.

Fifty five people now work on the site, with more than 60 per cent recruited from the local area.

Mick Watts, Mowi’s project director and global engineer, who has overseen the project from its inception said: ‘We’ve been delighted at the warm reception we’ve received from the community and would like to thank them for their patience over the last few years.

‘It’s also been great to build such a strong team here on site and we’re particularly pleased we have been able to provide employment for so many local people.

‘This is a big step forward for us as the pier facilities are an integral part of the company’s investment on this site. We’re also hopeful the plant will be finished in the coming months.’

Mowi has worked to create a facility that is environmentally sustainable. It uses liquified natural gas (LNG) which produces much lower carbon emissions than other fossil fuels. The LNG store at the site is the largest in Scotland and second only to the Isle of Grain, Kent in the UK

The feed ingredients are sustainably sourced, much of it from trimmings from fish processing plants who source their fish from well managed fisheries.

The pier is used for the delivery of fuel and ingredients for the feed, as well as for the collection of the feed pellets for distribution to Mowi salmon farms.

It is 147m long from the quayside and 20m wide, 50m long at the north facing end and 45m long at the north quay face.

It can accommodate up to four vessels at any one time on the four working areas. The water depth allows vessels up to 7,000 DWT (dead weight tonnage) to berth.

The development of the feed plant at Kyleakin is part of Mowi’s overall strategy to control the entire process from feed to fork in order to safeguard the quality of the product, improve efficiency and stabilise costs. Mowi built its first feed plant in Norway.