First in Scotland for new aquaculture technology as Loch Long planning application submitted

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LOCH Long Salmon (LLS) has submitted a planning application to develop Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm at Loch Long near Beinn Reithe in Argyll. Semi-closed fish farm technology excludes sea lice, catches most of the organic waste, and improves the health and welfare of the farmed stock.

While the Loch Long site would not be suitable or economical for conventional open net aquaculture due to its low current, it is ideal for Scotland’s first semi-closed farm due to its sheltered location, deep water, geographical isolation from other salmon farms, and proximity to a suitable shore base location.

LLS submitted the Planning Application to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority on 8th October. It will now be assessed by the Planning Authority ahead of formal public notification and the official consultation process.

“We are excited to be the first company bringing this transformative farming system to Scotland, and the Loch Long site provides the ideal environment for semi-closed aquaculture,” said Stewart Hawthorn, Director, LLS.  “Our technology will allow salmon farming to thrive in Scotland’s rural coastal areas, such as Loch Long, with a significantly improved environmental and fish welfare performance.  We will be working closely with local stakeholders to demonstrate how the proposed farm will be good for the environment, good for the salmon and good for the local community.”

Semi-closed systems have been demonstrated to offer a range of benefits.  The conventional salmon farm net is completely enclosed by an impermeable and opaque marine fabric material.  This secondary barrier prevents sea lice from getting into the farm, stops seals from seeing the farmed fish and traps most of the salmon faeces and any uneaten feed. 

The lack of medicinal or other treatments needed for sea lice has been shown to improve the welfare of the farmed fish overall, and to prevent breeding populations of lice establishing in the enclosures preventing retransmission to wild salmon and trout.  Semi-closed farms also do not require anti-seal nets or underwater acoustic seal scaring devices, and therefore have minimal impact on nearby marine wildlife including seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales. 

The farm will also capture more than 85% of the organic waste that is produced.  This will be used as a fertiliser ingredient or in green energy production.  LLS will contribute to creating and building Scotland’s circular economy, by capturing and removing a waste material from the environment and using this as a valuable resource. 

“When I started working on this project it was immediately apparent to me that our fresh approach would bring so many positives to the table.  I have enjoyed working with stakeholders including SEPA and Marine Scotland as we have introduced the first semi-closed farming proposal to Scotland,” said Mark Shotter, Project Manager. 

“It has also been very positive to be talking to the local communities and the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority who would host our innovative, low-impact salmon farm.  By addressing the concerns many have about aquaculture, we believe that our farm would be a great fit for the area.”

The proposed farm will comprise four circular shaped marine farming enclosures each with an outer diameter of up to 50m and a square harvesting facility with a side length of up to 50m, all being semi-closed containment systems. These enclosures will sit in single file formation in an 80m x 80m mooring grid approximately 300m from the western bank of Loch Long.

The farm, which LLS hopes to be operational by 2023, will employ approximately 12 people comprising a mix of salmon farming and technical roles encompassing site management, farming and fish health technicians, site engineers and mechanics and a waste system specialist. 

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