SCOTLAND’s biggest salmon farmer, Mowi, has confirmed it will close its Loch Ewe site at the end of the current production cycle, and relocate the biomass to a new high energy farm near Scalpay.
The new farm will combine salmon farming with the rearing of other marine species, and could also become a visitor attraction, with tours part of the proposal.
The company announced in July its intention to move from Loch Ewe and Loch Duich to ‘locations more appropriate for modern day aquaculture’.
Stephen MacIntyre, head of environmental management at Mowi Scotland, said today: ‘This relocation initiative aligns our growth plans with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s (RECC) recent recommendations to sustainably grow our fish production levels over the next few years, by expanding into new high energy farming areas in more appropriate open water locations.’
The company said its relocation plan will increase employment in remote locations, while retaining the services of its experienced and dedicated staff.
Employees currently working at Loch Ewe have been consulted and may continue their employment at other new or expanded locations, said Mowi in a press release.
The Loch Ewe location is set to retire at the end of the current fish cycle, at the end of 2020.
The new farm near the Isle of Scalpay is located in an open water environment well suited for modern day fish farming, said Mowi, which already has a track record in more exposed sites, including off Rum and Muck.
‘The farm will be unique to Scotland – forming part of an integrated multi-trophic growing project, involving multiple species of sea life, which will examine ways to improve the productivity and environmental sustainability of marine aquaculture practices,’ the company added.
And there are plans to link the farm location to the proposed visitor experience centre at Kyleakin, providing a first-hand view of an operating farm for interested tourists and Skye locals.
Ben Hadfield, Mowi Scotland’s managing director, said he was pleased to see Scotland’s regulatory system – which approved the application – supporting the company’s plans.
‘Success for this relocation initiative will be a net increase in production, a net increase in export value for Scotland and a net reduction in our environmental footprint at sensitive locations.
‘Scotland’s potential exit from the EU is challenging for us, and as a major and growing employer in the country, we will do our utmost to retain and develop our experienced staff.’
The Scalpay farm is set to start production in spring 2020. It will have 12 x 120m pens fed from a Gael Force barge, according to Mowi.