A COMPANY planning to set up organic salmon farms at sites on Skye is seeking approval from the local community, reported the West Highland Free Press today.
Organic Sea Harvest is hoping its two sites, at Culnacnoc and Invertote, could begin production in April next year.
The firm’s directors, Alex MacInnes, Robert Gray and Alister MacKinnon, held a public drop-in session in Staffin last Friday, to gauge reaction before they submit a planning application.
Their proposal involves harvesting a maximum of 2,500 tonnes of salmon a year at each site, using wholly organic methods.
A steady stream of locals reportedly turned up to view the plans and discuss them with the Organic Sea Harvest directors and with Hugh Drever, the UK chief operating officer for Villa Seafood, one of the leading companies in organic and sustainable fish farming.
Each site would create seven jobs and there is potential for further employment – possibly as many as 25 jobs – if the fish are processed locally. There are plans to process the salmon at a building on a land site in the Staffin area.
Both the sites under consideration will include 12 x 120m cages, along with a feed barge. The company said it has worked to minimise any visual impact from the popular viewpoint at Lealt Falls, while the farms would not be seen from Kilt Rock.
While the current focus is on the two sites at Staffin, the directors said they would need to secure at least one further site in order to fulfil the project’s potential.
They are considering areas at Solitote and Flodigarry for future development and will hold a community event in Kilmaluag in the near future.
The farmed salmon would carry a premium price, said Organic Sea Harvest, but the directors are confident of securing strong demand for the product.
Organic sea farms are classified as such because of the lower capacity of fish and the diet fed to them.
Organic Sea Harvest estimates that each site will require an investment of around £3.5 million, which the company aims to secure through a mixture of private and public sources.
The directors have pledged that the local community will stand to benefit through jobs and a fund levied from either company profits or fish sold, it was reported.