The startup is aiming to site its first farm on Loch Long, near Beinn Reithe, using semi-closed fish farm technology that is designed to exclude sea lice, catch most of the organic waste, and improve fish health and welfare.
According to Loch Long Salmon, while the 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 8 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 of 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 percent 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 enclosures, each with an outer diameter of up to 50 m and a square harvesting facility with a side length of up to 50 m, all being semi-closed containment systems. These enclosures will sit in single file formation in an 80 m x 80 m mooring grid, approximately 300 m from the western bank of Loch Long.
The farm, which LLS hopes to be operational by 2023, will employ around 12 people.