SCOTTISH Sea Farms is to receive £1.28 million in R&D support from Scottish Enterprise towards its work enhancing fish welfare.
Announced this morning at its new recirculation hatchery in Barcaldine, Argyll, the funds will go towards a total of £18.3 million the company is investing in innovative research and development.
The R&D spans five key areas:
• Establishing the conditions for optimum fish health and welfare at Scottish Sea Farms’ new £48 million RAS hatchery at Barcaldine in Argyll, set to open in 2019
• Developing more humane slaughter processes at the company’s processing facilities in Oban and at Scalloway on Shetland
• Harvesting wind and wave energy at more exposed farms to reduce reliance on fuel
• Recycling a greater proportion of by-products to minimise waste
• Capturing and analysing data in the ongoing drive to increase knowledge and understanding.
The investment was welcomed by Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes during a visit to the Barcaldine freshwater hatchery, which is due to receive its first eggs next week.
‘Scotland has a thriving food and drink sector, with salmon exports alone growing by 35 per cent during 2017, recognising the global reputation for our quality produce,’ she said.
‘Ensuring that the sector grows in a sustainable way remains a priority for us. It is great to see an ambitious and respected company like Scottish Sea Farms investing in innovation to improve environmental control, health issues and production efficiencies.
‘I’d like to congratulate the company on raising the bar, and wish them every success on their sustainable growth journey.’
Scottish Sea Farms’ managing director Jim Gallagher said: ‘Researching and developing new approaches and technologies is key to ensuring that we continue raising the healthiest fish in the most responsible but also the most environmentally sustainable way, and this latest £18.3 million investment aims to advance our work in both areas.
‘The £1.28 million support from Scottish Enterprise means that we will be able to do more of this planned R&D even sooner, accelerating both the innovation and the anticipated benefits for fish health and welfare and for the environment.’
Kirsteen Binnie, who leads Scottish Enterprise’s engagement with the salmon farmer, added: ‘Scottish Sea Farms is already a national success story, employing more than 430 people across the country. Its hunger to farm evermore responsibly is driving forward this latest project – the first of its kind in the sector – which will not only create a state-of-the-art new hatchery in Barcaldine and create new jobs in Scotland, but also reinforces our strong, innovative and forward-thinking food and drink sector.
‘We have worked intensively with the company since 2010, helping it deliver innovation, business improvements and international activity.
‘During this time, we’ve seen it grow to become the second largest salmon producer in the UK. With this latest support, Scottish Sea Farms can continue to go from strength to strength and deliver its future ambition.’
Working closely with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Sea Farms to deliver this project, Highlands and Islands Enterprise area manager for Argyll and the Islands, Jennifer Nicoll said: ‘We very much welcome this considerable inward investment project to our region and the jobs it will create. ‘Aquaculture is a major employer in Scotland and of growing significance, particularly in rural areas where it supports local economies and community resilience.
‘The R&D work at the new hatchery will complement Oban’s status as a university town, and the commercial, research and educational activities at the nearby European Marine Science Park at Dunstaffnage.
‘There will also be wider benefits across the region, as Scottish Sea Farms has operations up the west coast and in Orkney and Shetland. We look forward to working with the company as the new facility takes shape.’
Picture: SSF managing director Jim Gallagher at the new Barcaldine hatchery with Minister Kate Forbes