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SEPA gives green light to Scotland’s first semi-closed salmon farm.

SEPA gives green light to Scotland’s first semi-closed salmon farm.

Loch Long Salmon SEPAs decision that the permit was issued for their proposed site in Arrochar has been welcomed. This is just the latest in a series to receive regulatory approvals before the farm can begin to be deployed. This permit comes after two years of modelling and surveys to ensure that the farm will not affect the environmental quality of the Loch.

Uniquely, the company did not request permission to use chemicals for treating sea lice. The semi-closed farm system it will be using means that lice cannot enter the pen, protecting both the farmed and wild fish in loch. This makes the farm different from traditional open-net fish farms that tend to treat parasites with chemicals and then dump them into the water.

Loch Long Salmon thanks SEPA for its advice to help it understand the regulatory requirements of the proposed semi closed farming system. SEPA also thanked Loch Long Salmon for adapting its permit requirements to match the unique way the farm will operate. SEPA’s approach is to encourage innovation in aquaculture.

Loch Long Salmon is allowed to install five enclosures measuring 140 m in circumference and weighing in at a maximum of 3,452 tonnes. SEPA approved the set-up due to the fact that over 85 percent waste and uneaten food are collected at the base of the enclosure. This allows for treatment and transport to the shore. This reduces environmental impact, and protects the seabed and marine environment.

Stewart Hawthorn (director of Loch Long Salmon) said: We are pleased that SEPA has issued the CAR licence to our Beinn Reithe Site in Loch Long, primarily for their thorough and helpful approach which will bring semi-closed containment Aquaculture to Scotland for first time.

Semi-closed farming systems are similar to conventional pens. They have an impermeable, opaque outer barrier that surrounds and protects the fish net.

This farming system has been successfully used in Norway since 2014, and it is now being used in Canada and Faroes. However, this will be the first time it is being used in Scotland. This project is an example of what can be done and will help to ensure the future success of salmon farming in Scotland. It will have a positive impact on the environment and support rural economies and jobs.

I am confident that this SEPA licence will allow us to start construction of this exciting project.

SEPA’s vision is for the finfish aquaculture industry in Scotland to be a world-leading innovator in ways to reduce the environmental impact of food production and consumption. SEPA will work closely alongside developers to provide early, upfront advice about the regulatory requirements applicable for innovative farming systems. SEPA will also adapt its permitting framework to reflect these systems.

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After two Scottish Parliamentary inquiries, and the largest ever public consultation by SEPA, the regulator introduced in 2019 its Finfish Aquaculture Sector Plan (and a Revised Regulation Regime) to address concerns. Both were clear in their visions for a sector that values the environment and places environmental protection at the heart of its plans and operations. The Plan is an evidence-based regulatory framework that aims to maintain full compliance with environmental protection laws and help those who invest in innovation to move beyond compliance.

Jo Green, SEPA’s acting chief executive stated: SEPA, Scotland’s independent environmental regulator, is ambitious in its aspirations to create an aquaculture sector in which operators recognize that protecting the environment is essential to their success. This is why it is at the forefront of all their plans and operations. We want Scotland as a leader in the development of environmentally friendly methods for food production and consumption. We also want aquaculture operators to build strong relationships with their communities and other users of the environment.

SEPA’s revised regulatory regime is designed to encourage innovation that fosters environmental sustainability. Semi-closed containment systems such as Loch Long Salmon’s have the potential to play an important role in enhancing sustainability through reduced medicine usage and discharge. We will continue supporting businesses in the sector that adopt innovative and environmentally friendly methods of fish production.

Loch Long Salmon has submitted a plan application to Loch Lomond National Park Authority, The Trossachs National Park Authority, for determination in early 2022. This would allow construction of the site to start by the end in 2022.

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