In a long-awaited move, Loch Long Salmon (LLS) has submitted a planning application to develop Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm. The proposed farm site is at Loch Long near Beinn Reithe in Argyll.
LLS submitted the application to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority on 8 October, starting a process which will involve extensive public consultation.
While the sheltered waters of Loch Long would not be suitable for a conventional open net fish farm, the company said, the site is ideal for the semi-closed structure being proposed. LLS said Loch Long offered deep water, protection from extreme weather, isolation from other salmon farms and proximity to a suitable shore base.
The semi-closed system being proposed includes an inner layer with a conventional salmon farm net, and another layer which is impermeable and opaque, which will keep out sea lice and prevent seals from seeing the salmon, as well as trapping most of the salmon faeces and unopened feed.
LLS argues that the system will minimise the need for sea lice treatments and anti-predator measures such as acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs). It should also enable the capture of more than 85% of the organic waste created, which can be used to make agricultural fertiliser.
The proposed farm will comprise four circular shaped marine farming enclosures each with an outer diameter of up to 50m and a square harvesting facility with a side length of up to 50m, all being semi-closed containment systems. These enclosures will sit in single file formation in an 80m x 80m mooring grid approximately 300m from the western bank of Loch Long.
The farm, which LLS hopes to be operational by 2023, will employ approximately 12 people comprising a mix of salmon farming and technical roles encompassing site management, farming and fish health technicians, site engineers and mechanics and a waste system specialist.
Stewart Hawthorn, Director with LLS said: “We are excited to be the first company bringing this transformative farming system to Scotland, and the Loch Long site provides the ideal environment for semi-closed aquaculture.
“Our technology will allow salmon farming to thrive in Scotland’s rural coastal areas, such as Loch Long, with a significantly improved environmental and fish welfare performance. We will be working closely with local stakeholders to demonstrate how the proposed farm will be good for the environment, good for the salmon and good for the local community.”