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Two giant offshore fish farms earmarked for isles         17/7/10






Major salmon farming company Marine Harvest has taken a step forward in its £40 million plans to establish giant four offshore residential fish farms in the Minch.


A new system of open sea salmon ranching will see crews of up to six living on accommodation barges at fish farms in exposed locations off the Scottish west coast.


The concept is well tested in Norway and Canada but has never been tried in Scotland.


The company indicated the development could see 40 new jobs in the Western Isles and increase the company’s tonnage by 20,000 tonnes annually.


The company is considering sites at Hellisay, Stulaigh North, Pabbay North,

Mingulay and Eriskay which are all in the Western Isles along with Gighay,

Canna, Muck, Hyskeir, Colonsay and Coll.


It is belived to have whittled down the number of lcoations it is interested in

after about ten months of monitoring sea and weather conditions.


Senior representatives from Marine Harvest gave islanders an update when they visited Castlebay and Lochboisdale in recent days.


Alan Sutherland Managing Director for Marine Harvest said: “We were very pleased to explain where we are with our proposals.


"We were keen to outline our progress with the monitoring work we have been carrying out and to give everyone an opportunity to discuss and ask questions.


“We found both meetings extremely useful and we are grateful to those who

attended in both locations.”


Islanders were told that some sites were borderline and three have been



The firm plans to develop four sites and at least half is currently earmarked

for Uist and Barra.


The Hellisay site is in a sea strait off the north east tip of Barra. It is

understood that it could harvest 4,000 tonnes over each two years and need six full-time workers. Two apprentices would be trained and a further pair of

seasonal employees would be hired.


In addition, a shore base would be established on Barra creating more jobs.


This could also service the proposed Stuley Island farm, south of Loch Eynort, South Uist. Each farm would cost about £3 million.


The new Marine Harvest developments would be around three times the size of the average farm. September 2012 is the target for stock the sites.


As well as the staff working on the residential fish farms, the company hopes to establish a shore base in Barra.


Marine Harvest has shipped three large residential accommodation barges from Chile to the Western Isles. Two are currently moored by existing farms on Lewis and Harris and the third is presently in Stornoway habour.


Marine Harvest Scotland hopes the new venture will boost its turnover by

£60 million to £180 million.