Planning application filed for Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm

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New company Loch Long Salmon aims to raise 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of salmon per annum.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday, Loch Long Salmon (LLS) has submitted a planning application to develop Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm at Loch Long near Beinn Reithe in Argyll.

The farm, which LLS hopes to be operational by 2023, will employ approximately 12 people comprising a mix of salmon farming and technical roles.

Loch Long Salmon is a new salmon farming company based in Scotland. It was set up by Simply Blue Group, through its Simply Blue Aquaculture subsidiary and Trimara Services, an aquaculture sales and service supply company. Christoph Harwood is MD of Simply Blue Aquaculture and Stewart Hawthorn is a founding Director of Trimara Services. The objective is to establish a company that can raise 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of salmon per annum.

The company claims that the semi-closed fish farm technology will exclude sea lice and improve the health and welfare of the farmed stock.

While the Loch Long site would not be suitable or economical for conventional open net aquaculture due to its low current, the company says it is a good fit with the technology due to its sheltered location, deep water, geographical isolation from other salmon farms.

LLS submitted the Planning Application to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority on 8 October. It will now be assessed by the Planning Authority ahead of formal public notification and the official consultation process.

Stewart Hawthorn, Director at 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.”

Semi-closed systems have been demonstrated to offer a range of benefits. The conventional salmon farm net is completely enclosed by an impermeable and opaque marine fabric material.  This secondary barrier prevents sea lice from getting into the farm, stops seals from seeing the farmed fish and traps most of the salmon faeces and any uneaten feed.

Semi-closed farms also do not require anti-seal nets or underwater acoustic seal scaring devices, and therefore, in theory, have less impact on nearby marine wildlife including seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales.

LLS claims that the farm will also capture more than 85 per cent of the organic waste that is produced.  This will be used as a fertiliser ingredient or in green energy production.

“When I started working on this project it was immediately apparent to me that our fresh approach would bring so many positives to the table.  I have enjoyed working with stakeholders including SEPA and Marine Scotland as we have introduced the first semi-closed farming proposal to Scotland,” said Mark Shotter, Project Manager.

“It has also been very positive to be talking to the local communities and the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority who would host our innovative, low-impact salmon farm.  By addressing the concerns many have about aquaculture, we believe that our farm would be a great fit for the area.”

Ecomerden R30