SSC wins £5 million in investment from government for RAS smolt facility

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RAS facility at Applecross will be fully operational by 2023 and will be the largest of its kind in Scotland.

A new project aimed at improving welfare and sustainability within the salmon farming industry has been awarded £5m of public funding.

According to The Herald, the scheme, run by The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) at its Applecross sites, will also see the creation of 30 new jobs in the northwest Highlands.

The four-year aquaculture research and development project aims to increase the size of smolts in an ecologically sustainable way using innovative new technology.

If successful, it is hoped that the research will “significantly advance” salmon farming in Scotland.

The project will use RAS technology, which involves filtering water from the tanks so that it can be reused – dramatically reducing the amount of water and space required to produce the fish.

It will also include innovative husbandry and enhanced smolt testing and vaccination methods to improve fish welfare while increasing production.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved up to £3m of investment, with a further £2m confirmed by Marine Scotland.

Ian Laister, managing director of SSC comments, :“This new post-smolt technology will be a game changer and we are delighted to have the substantial support of both Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Marine Scotland to allow these innovative plans to be developed in Scotland. Their investment and support will help create jobs in the rural economy.

“Our RAS facility at Applecross will be fully operational by 2023 and will be the largest of its kind in Scotland, with plans for an additional two RAS facilities.”

Announcing the funding, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said, “the project will deliver on improved fish and welfare, applies innovation to address key challenges and contributes towards sustainability. It also supports the creation of new jobs which will boost the wider economy.

“These jobs include high value, high skill positions in remote rural areas and also add to our burgeoning aquaculture supply chain which makes the whole industry more sustainable in the longer term.”

Carroll Buxton, interim chief executive of HIE, added, “aquaculture is a huge industry in Scotland, particularly in rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, where it provides vital year-round employment.

“It is important therefore that we continue to support the industry to improve sustainability, reduce waste and contribute to Scotland’s transition to a net zero economy.

“This project will improve fish welfare and quality, while increasing efficiency in production. I’m very pleased we have been able to provide support and look forward to seeing the initiative develop.”

The Scottish Salmon Company employs around 600 people across 60 sites, most of which are in Scotland’s west coast and islands.