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Orkney is to gain six new skilled jobs after Scottish Sea Farms was given approval for a new salmon farm off Lober Rock close to St Margaret’s Hope in Scapa Flow.
The new £3m farm, which is the culmination of several years of research and planning into identifying the best farming locations in Orkney waters, has consent to grow 1,274 tonnes of salmon and is expected to go live in 2019.
Consisting of 12 x 80m pens and a 200-tonne barge, it will be managed by a six-strong farm team, supported by specialist training and development.
The boost to local jobs and skills doesn’t stop there. Independent economic and development consultancy Imani Development estimates that every direct job created by Scottish salmon farming supports up to five further jobs indirectly across the supply chain, creating a potential 30 additional jobs.
Says Richard Darbyshire, Scottish Sea Farms’ Regional Production Manager for Orkney: “This latest consent is hugely positive news. For the remote communities in which we live and work, the new farm will bring skilled jobs and training, additional business for local suppliers, and a boost to local economies in terms of increased disposable income.
“From a company perspective, the new farm will help us in our drive to meet demand for responsibly farmed salmon; demand that’s rising rapidly not only here in the UK but internationally as the global population continues to grow – and with it, the need for sustainable protein sources.”
Salmon farming is increasingly considered to be one of the most sustainable forms of farming, delivering 61kg of edible meat per 100kg of feed – more than double that for poultry, pork or beef. It also has the lowest carbon footprints of all the farming sectors.
The new farm at Lober Rock will bring the company’s Orkney estate to eight-strong with five farms acquired from Orkney Sea Farms in 2007, followed by the addition of the award-winning 1,909 tonne Wyre farm in 2015 and, most recently, a new 1,791 tonne farm at Westerbister in 2016.
The islands’ local geography has helped deliver strong results. Says Darbyshire: “Orkney’s fast-flowing tidal currents make for a very firm, lean salmon with little fat and lots of flavour, while the lack of wild salmon rivers means that sea lice isn’t an issue. Testament to this, we haven’t administered one treatment for Lepeophtheirus salmonis in 10 years of farming in Orkney waters.”
Combined, the expanded Scottish Sea Farms’ Orkney estate will have the capacity to grow over 10,000 tonnes of salmon (live weight) annually for customers in the UK and for export to over 18 different countries around the world.