Scottish Sea Farms to “consolidate” operations in Shetland

Scottish Sea Farms will invest upwards of £4 million in new salmon farming facility, the latest in a wave of modernisations by the company.
Proposed location of Scottish Sea Farms aquaculture facility in Shetland. Photo: Scottish Sea Farms.
Proposed location of Scottish Sea Farms aquaculture facility in Shetland. Photo: Scottish Sea Farms.

Scottish Sea Farms plans to expand and consolidate its salmon farming operations in Shetland, with the announcement of a new larger salmon farm west of South Whiteness.

The aquaculture development, named Billy Baa, will see several existing farming licences "streamlined" into one location.

According to the company, "extensive hydrodynamic modelling" identified the site as having "optimal conditions" for salmon farming.

Announcing a community consultation event to take place on Tuesday 19 September, Scottish Sea Farms said the development will enable the company to increase the space between pens, maximise water exchange and oxygen levels on the farm, improve operational efficiencies, boost fish health, welfare and survival, and ultimately increase harvest volumes.

Scottish Sea Farms aims to consolidate pens at sites around Scotland to improve health and efficiency

The move is one of the latest such developments at Scottish Sea Farms facilities around Scotland, with a total of six sites already announced as being modernised or consolidated during the current farming year. Since 2021, the company has modernised 14 of its salmon farming facilities, with its Loch Nevis facility currently undergoing a £1.5 million update.

Commenting on the Loch Nevis modernisation, Regional Production Manager for the Mainland Innes Weir said "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."

'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," she added.

Company will invest £4 million in Shetland facility

Within Shetland, Scottish Sea Farms is opening its plans for the proposed Billy Baa site to local consultation, promoting the development as a way of creating jobs and supporting the local economy.

"Salmon farming is a key employer in the local area and the proposed development of Billy Baa will add to that, creating a minimum of six new jobs," the company said announcing the consultation.

"Costing upwards of £4 million, the installation and ongoing maintenance of the farm will also support jobs across the supply chain: from engineering, haulage, and diver and vessel hire to the manufacture of equipment and feed, and local travel and accommodation."

Modern farm infrastructure designed to "blend into" local surroundings

Scottish Sea Farms intends for the consolidated Billy Baa site to comprise nine 160-metre salmon pens and one 120-metre pen, secured by a 125-metre mooring grid and with a surface area of 19,480m2.

Each pen would be stocked to RSPCA-Assured densities of 1.5% fish to 98.5% water, with a combined maximum permitted biomass of 4,091 tonnes, and equipped with predator defence netting systems and pole-mounted top nets. The new facility is to be supported by the company's existing Shetland shore base at South Whiteness.

Scottish Sea Farms says the proposed development will be equipped with the latest farm infrastructure, as well as a modern barge featuring a "boat-like" design, which it says will "help it to blend into the local seascape". The company highlighted that it is conducting a "landscape visual impact assessment" to ensure the farm does not impact negatively on the local visual environment.

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