Mowi Scotland will close two of its inshore sites in exchange for greater biomass at high energy locations.
Loch Ewe and Loch Duich are two sites the company, Scotland’s biggest salmon farmer, has identified as suitable for relocation.
The farms are situated in enclosed sea lochs, near sensitive wild salmonid habitats, said Mowi in a press release this morning.
‘Mowi has strived to improve relations with the wild fish sector and has been clear that it will seek to expand its operations in Scotland, whilst securing reduced impact on the environment and further developing the significant economic contribution that it makes to rural Scotland,’ said Ben Hadfield, managing director of Mowi Scotland.
‘In absence of a regulatory framework that enables relocation of a farm’s biomass, we are wanting to engage with our government, environmental groups and salmon fishery boards to pursue this opportunity.
‘The sites will be closed permanently, conditional to the support from our regulatory system to transfer the biomass to other locations, and to sustainably expand our production in the best possible areas for salmon farming thus protecting the associated jobs.’
Mowi’s head of environmental management, Stephen MacIntyre, added: ‘We want to align our growth plans with the Scottish parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee’s recent recommendations, and have plans to sustainably grow our fish production levels over the next few years by expanding into new, high energy farming areas located further offshore.’
The REC committee report, published last autumn, recommended that the Scottish government discuss with salmon farm companies the potential to minimise risk to wild salmon and to improve the locations of existing farms and grow production in a sustainable way.
Mowi has two new locations off the isles of Muck and Rum, utilising the latest infrastructure and technology to raise salmon safely in challenging sea conditions.
Bill Whyte, convener for Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board, supported the latest move by the Fort William based company.
‘We welcome Mowi’s recognition that enclosed sea lochs near to sensitive wild salmonid habitat can increase localised impact on wild salmonids.
‘We will expect further clarity about the process of biomass relocation, however, if Mowi can provide evidence through EIA planning and Sepa regulatory structure that the relocated biomass will have reduced potential impact on wild migratory fish, then we would be prepared to support biomass relocation on a conditional basis.’
Hadfield said: ‘We have spoken to farm staff at both locations to assure them their employment can continue with the company at other new or expanded locations.
‘Our ambition is to close contentious locations, jointly working with wild fishery managers.
‘We will create increased employment and retain our experienced and dedicated staff, and we will work with west coast Scottish communities to release all the value from farming Mowi salmon in the best possible locations.
‘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.’