Equipped with RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) technology, our new £58M hatchery gives us much greater control over the key growth factors such as water quality and temperature, oxygen levels, speed of flow and light.

The result is that we are now producing larger, more robust smolts that not only require two months less at sea but are also better able to withstand the challenges of the marine environment once there.

The salmon lifecycle
The salmon lifecycle

Now, we’re proposing to expand the current hatchery by adding a new post-smolt unit, located on the area of ground between the existing hatchery building and the shoreline.

This will enable us to shorten the time required at sea by as much as five months in total, benefiting both fish welfare and the environment.

Find out more below:

With an anticipated footprint of 9,500m2, the proposed post-smolt unit would be located on the area of ground between the existing hatchery and the shoreline.

This will enable fish to be transferred from the main building to the new unit via a fixed pipeline. It will also ensure that post-smolts can later be transferred smoothly onto well-boats for onward transport to marine farms.

The post-smolt unit has been designed to complement the existing hatchery and will include:

  • Main building consisting of tanks, filtration and heat exchangers
  • Ancillary building comprising of sludge treatment, lime dosing, water intake and power generation
  • Small feed distribution and storage building
  • Intake water pumphouse
  • Lime silo
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Sludge tanks
  • An extension of existing outfall pipe and associated seawater intake.

Already, the existing hatchery facility has helped bring about real gains: to fish welfare, to the environment and to the local economy.

Advancing fish welfare

The first generation of smolts to be reared in the more controlled, bio-secure conditions of Barcaldine Hatchery had an average weight of 146g. That’s as much as three times the weight we would expect to produce using traditional hatchery methods. Subsequent generations have weighed in at an even larger size.

The significance of these bigger, healthier smolts is that they require two months less in the marine environment to reach market-size, reducing the time they are exposed to natural challenges. Once at sea, they will also be better able to withstand these same natural challenges.

By adding a further stage to our land-based farming, the proposed post-smolt unit will build on these gains further by reducing the time required at sea by as much as five months.

Protecting the environment

Barcaldine Hatchery delivers two key benefits in terms of protecting the environment. One, by stocking salmon to a larger size and reducing the time required at sea, it reduces the overall waste emissions from our marine farms in terms of fish faeces and the use of licensed veterinary medicines.

Two, it also creates the opportunity for longer fallow periods between generations of fish, maximising the break in the lifecycle of parasites which, in turn, benefits farmed fish health and reduces any risk to wild salmonids.

By reducing the time at sea by up to five months for some fish, the proposed post-smolt will benefit each of these areas even further.

Boosting the local economy

Currently, Barcaldine Hatchery employs a freshwater team of over 20-strong: from RAS technicians to specialist engineers, the vast majority of whom live in the surrounding areas.

The hatchery building is also home to many key support functions including IT & Business Intelligence, Environment & Planning, Health & Safety, Quality & Compliance, Occupational Health and HR

Looking ahead, the proposed post-smolt unit will:

  • Generate a further six to 10 direct jobs
  • Support up to 50 additional jobs across the supply chain
  • Create a £30m+ construction project for Scotland.

As with any proposed new development, it’s only natural for there to be questions. Below, we address three of the most commonly asked questions. 

Q. Will the post-smolt unit affect the landscape?
A. As the proposed new unit would be located within the existing site footprint, immediately in front of the current facility’s loch-facing reception, it won’t be seen from the A828.

The scale and height of the new building, along with the use of neutral colours and variated lines, will be in keeping with the main building; the result being that the new unit will mirror that of the existing hatchery but on smaller scale and set lower into the landscape to further minimise visual impact.

Q. Will there be an increase in noise?
A. Whilst we made a conscious effort to minimise construction noise during the building of the main facility, many lessons were learned along the way; lessons that we will apply to the construction of the proposed new unit to help ensure it’s as disturbance-free as possible for local residents and businesses.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Restricting hours of construction to minimise the potential for noise or disturbance
  • Deploying acoustic insulation and acoustic barriers when using noisier equipment.

Post-construction, the proposed development will use similar systems and processes as the main hatchery. As such, the noise and activity levels are expected to be in line with current levels.

Q. Will there be an increase in traffic?
A. During the construction phase, we will implement traffic control to safely manage the interaction between routine traffic and construction traffic, including speed limits, signage and traffic restrictions during sensitive periods such as school pupil arrival and departure times.

On completion, any increase in operational traffic compared with current levels is expected to be slight as it’s anticipated that the planned post-smolt unit will result in as few as six additional vehicles and one additional heavy vehicle per day during operating hours.

If you have a question related to our development proposals that’s not addressed here, you can contact us using the ‘Find out more’ page.

Alternatively, you can email our Environment & Planning team directly at environment@scottishseafarms.com.

Please note that any comments provided to us online or via email won’t be considered by the relevant council unless you also submit those comments directly to them.