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Business / Scottish Enterprise grant helps Sea Farms innovate

Scalloway introduces humane fish slaughter.

SCOTTISH Sea Farms is receiving £1.3 million from Scottish Enterprise to boost its £18.3m drive in research and development intended to bring in more humane and greener practices at its operations throughout Scotland.

Introducing humane slaughter at the company’s processing plants in Scalloway and Oban is one of five prongs to its developmental strategy.

According to the firm, which has 15 farms in Shetland as well as the plant in Scalloway, the total investment of £18.3 million will accelerate both the innovative work and the anticipated benefits.

The “pioneering work” is intended to further enhance fish welfare and go beyond compliance with regards to protecting the environment.

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 [research and development] even sooner, accelerating both the innovation and the anticipated benefits for fish health and welfare and for the environment.”

The money will also be spent on:

  • Establishing the conditions for optimum fish health and welfare at Scottish Sea Farms’ new £48m hatchery at Barcaldine in Argyll, set to open in 2019
  • 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 Scalloway factory will also benefit from reduced waste output with the capturing of “pure” by-products like blood and offal going to petfood or other uses.

A trial of renewable power generation, meanwhile, is underway at one of Scottish Sea Farms’ Shetland sites. The technology used is a newly developed MANTA device which has the “potential to power five homes” in optimal conditions.

An electro stunning system is also being developed by Dingwall based Ace Aquatec at Scalloway that is intended to put the fish in “as relaxed a state as possible” before they are killed.

According to Scottish Sea Farms the intention is to put the fish farming industry on the same footing as land based husbandry when it comes to slaughter standards and visits to Scalloway by the RSPCA and Freedom Foods have resulted in positive feedback.

Kirsteen Binnie, who guides Scottish Enterprise’s engagement with the industry, said: “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.”