Scottish salmon producer is accelerating its efforts to modernise its farms by reducing the number of sites and pens but increasing the size of the pens.
Scottish Sea Farms – which is co-owned 50/50 by Lerøy Seafood Group and SalMar – has announced plans to upgrade two of its sites, Nevis A and B, by consolidating and enlarging their fish pens.
Where once there were 12 x 80m circumference pens at each farm, there will now be five 120m pens, reducing the overall number of units from 36 to just 10 while maintaining the same overall biomass, the company announced in a press release earlier this month.
Under PDR (permitted development rights) rulings that came in two years ago, salmon farmers are now able to apply to increase pens to a maximum circumference of 200m.
The new configuration will allow for increased spacing between the pens. This promotes better water exchange and enhanced oxygen flow around the farms, which is expected to create superior growing conditions for the salmon, while maximizing operational efficiencies
“We’ve seen, at other farms that have been through the process already, that consolidating into fewer pens but of a larger size gives us the ability to better manage our resources, equipment, fish health and welfare, and water quality,” said Innes Weir, Scottish Sea Farms’ regional production manager for the mainland.
Weir also emphasized the potential environmental benefits of the new arrangement. “It also provides greater scope to minimise the impact of environmental challenges that can pass through farms, such as the acute micro-jellyfish event that affected Loch Nevis last autumn,” he added.
While a third site located in Loch Nevis will be temporarily fallowed, both Nevis A and B are set to be stocked later this year.
Loch Nevis is the fourth of six such upgrades and consolidations to take place this farming year, following Fiunary in the Sound of Mull, Bring Head in Orkney and Setterness South in Shetland, with Wyre and Swarta Skerry – both also in the Northern Isles – due to be stocked soon.
This brings the total number of modernisations since 2021 to 14.