Scottish Sea Farms’ new £1.9 million vessel will upgrade the company’s focus on fish health

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The Scottish company has this week put into operation a new service vessel which will play a role in protecting fish health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to safeguard the supply and flow of fresh, nutritious food around the world, and we remain as committed as ever to investing in the areas, activities and infrastructure that will ensure our farming approaches are fit for the future,” said Jim Gallagher, Managing Director for Scottish Sea Farms, in a press release.

The vessel is an investment of EUR 2.2 million (£1.9 million).

It takes up 21.2m by 9.3m and has been named “Fair Isle”, named after the island lying between Shetland and Orkney. The vessel will operate primarily in Scottish Sea Farms’ northerly regions.

This, in turn, frees up existing workboat, the “Sally Ann”, to service the company’s mainland farms, increasing response times across the 42-strong farming estate.

“Having an additional vessel means we can respond more quickly and be more proactive in those instances where a veterinary treatment would help prevent an emerging health challenge from developing,” said Dr Ralph Bickerdike, Scottish Sea Farms’ Head of Fish Health.

At the moment water quality is monitored daily and fish from every pen are carefully hand-checked weekly to help detect the warning signs of gill disease. The new vessel will add to this ‘prevention over cure’ approach by enabling farmers to administer treatments, where needed, at an earlier and more effective stage.

The “Fair Isle” will also contribute towards the company’s ongoing roll-out of protective Seal Pro netting systems.

“As with the rest of the sector, we faced a huge challenge in terms of gill health last year and we’ve made a series of investments as a result,” explains Bickerdike. “We’re working hard to ensure our farmers are equipped to deliver preventative care as and when it’s required, and the “Fair Isle” will help towards that.”

Built at the Dutch yard Nauplius and featuring a wide deck with 60-tonne carrying capacity, the vessel is the latest – and biggest – addition to the salmon farmer’s fleet.

Designed to withstand the extreme weather conditions of Shetland and Orkney, the sturdy boat boasts a large HS Marine deck crane with three times the lifting capacity of Scottish Sea Farms’ other boats in the area.

The “Fair Isle” is expected to make her maiden voyage to Orkney within days, weather permitting.