Mowi closes salmon farm at Loch Ewe in Wester Ross and relinquishes lease with Crown Estate; Employees offered alternative positions within company as it probes sites for Neptune tanks
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Mowi is closing operations at its salmon farm at Loch Ewe but has stated an interest in locating a tank at another location on the loch.
The closure of the operation follows agreement with Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board.
The final harvest of organic salmon from the farm was sold at market earlier this month.
Mowi had identified Loch Ewe as candidate for relocation due to limited production capabilities dictated by the enclosed nature of the sea loch and the site’s proximity to sensitive wild salmonid habitats.
With subsequent approval of a farm off the shore of Scalpay, Mowi announced closure of Loch Ewe farm in July 2019. With the farm now empty, Mowi will relinquish the site lease with the Crown Estate.
Mowi’s environmental manager, Stephen MacIntyre said: “We are pleased to note that the 2020 seabed survey carried out at the site met SEPA’s new and enhanced environmental standards and Mowi will implement a post closure monitoring programme to continue to assess the health of the marine environment.”
Staff working at the farm have been provided with other employment opportunities within the company.
The Norwegian-based company said it had six direct farm personnel employed there.
Mowi said its team of marine biologists, oceanographers and environmental analysts "continue to identify locations best suited for modern-day aquaculture, as well as investigating opportunities to improve current farming technology".
Building on successful trials of Neptune sea tanks at its operations in Norway, Mowi is now exploring the potential for implementation of the technology at suitable locations in Scotland.
The solid tank, built by Aquafarm Equipment, enables fish farmers to better control water inputs and outputs, thereby avoiding intake of potentially harmful phytoplankton and sea lice and eliminating interactions of farm-raised and wild fish.
The Neptune tank, measuring 40 metres in diameter, will grow salmon after their initial freshwater phase – from 120 to 800 grams – before on growing at sea pens. Implementation of a Neptune tank is estimated to reduce the duration of a salmon grown in net pens by eight months.
The company said it has approached Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board to discuss the potential for installation of one tank at Loch Ewe, and will soon approach stakeholders at other locations.
Mowi will seek permissions for the deployment of four tanks in Scotland.
The first salmon farm began operations in Loch Ewe in 1987
The company said it is set to seek permissions to approve the Neptune tank at a different location, as it has different environmental requirements.