At company level, it’s part of a wider drive to streamline our existing estate into a smaller number of farms, sited in locations that offer our salmon the best growing conditions.

At sector level, it’s the first of two planning notifications – one by Scottish Sea Farms to Shetland Islands Council and the other by fellow producer Mowi to Highland Council – to help trial a new, improved licensing and consenting process for salmon farms.

About the trial

The trial follows an independent review by regulatory expert Professor Russel Griggs in 2022, commissioned by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, which found the current process of consenting and licensing for aquaculture to be complex, with no joined up approach and, as such, was not working ‘as well as it could.’

In the months since, a Consenting Task Group, set up by the Scottish Aquaculture Council to deliver the recommendations, has been working on a new, more coordinated process.

Pre-application process

As part of the trial, the pre-application process will see the two main consenting regimes   local authority planners and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency – work together to review the submission in consultation with key stakeholders, rather than each body considering the applications separately, as currently happens.

Engagement with local residents and businesses is also key. As such, Scottish Sea Farms has been in discussion with Shetland Island Council, community councils and other marine users about the proposals.

Adding to this, we have hosted two public consultation events to provide the wider community with the opportunity to ask more about, and discuss, our proposals.

These events took place on:

  • Wednesday 21 February 2024
    3pm to 7pm, Voe Public Hall, Isles Road, Voe, Shetland ZE2 9PT.
  • Thursday 4 April 2024
    3pm to 7pm, Vidlin Hall, Vidlin, Shetland ZE2 9QB.

Scoping stage

Our proposal has now progressed to scoping stage, so-called because it will see us consult with Shetland Islands Council to identify (scope out) the key factors to be considered in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

You can find the full pre-application screening report on the SEPA website by clicking here, which contains responses from all the statutory stakeholders.

Have your say

As with all planning applications, you will have the opportunity to submit a representation to the planning authority directly (in this case, Shetland Islands Council) during the relevant stage of the formal application process.

So check back here for further updates.

The proposed development would see farming consents for existing farms in Yell Sound – Hamnavoe (1,910 tonnes) and Boatroom Voe (216 tonnes), both currently fallow, along with Collafirth (1,200 tonnes) – consolidated into neighbouring farm Fish Holm (1,910 tonnes) and a further 764 tonnes applied for.

If approved, the expanded Fish Holm farm would be equipped with up to 12 x 200m pens, contained within a 150m mooring grid.

This would enable us to:

  • Reduce a total potential 29 salmon pens and three feed barges to a maximum of 12 pens supported by one barge
  • Increase the space between pens, maximising water exchange and oxygen levels
  • Improve operational efficiencies
  • Boost fish health, welfare and survival
  • Grow harvest volumes.

As with our other farms, each pen would be stocked to RSPCA Assured densities of just 1.5% fish to 98.5% water, with a combined maximum permitted biomass of 6,000 tonnes.

To help keep these fish safely separate from other marine life, pens would be equipped with predator defence netting systems and pole-mounted top nets.

Adjacent to the pens would be a feed barge housing a camera-monitored feeding system, office and welfare facilities for the farm team, and a store for fish feed.

The proposed development will be equipped with the latest farm infrastructure.

This includes 200m circumference pens with pole-supported top netting system.

This pole-supported top netting system, designed to provide a barrier between farmed salmon and sea birds, would feature a mix of 100mm x 100mm mesh on the upper layer and 75mm x 75mm mesh on the sides. Both small enough to prevent bird access but large enough to prevent bird entanglement.

Indicative top net with 100mmx100m mesh and 75mmx75mm mesh

Adjacent to the pens would be a modern feed barge, featuring a boat-like design to help it blend into the local seascape.

Indicative feed barge

Shore base

In addition to the feed barge stationed at Fish Holm, the farm will also be supported by our existing Setterness shore base, from where the farm team will travel to and from site.

Salmon farming is amongst the largest private employers in Shetland and the proposed consolidation and expansion of Fish Holm will protect that:

  • Securing farm jobs and support roles for the longer-term
  • Ensuring continued onward spend by employees in their local communities
  • Generating local business via the investment in the new farm infrastructure, installation and ongoing maintenance.

National contribution and beyond

Scottish farmed salmon is consistently one of the most valuable food exports, both in Scotland and in the UK.

Proposed farm developments such as this, aimed at enhancing fish health, welfare and survival, will further add to the volumes available for sale, helping to better meet the needs of a growing population.

Have a question related to our proposed consolidation and development of Fish Holm that’s not addressed here?

You can contact our Development team by:

  • Emailing development@scottishseafarms.com
  • Phoning 01631 574000
  • Writing to Development team, Scottish Sea Farms, Barcaldine Hatchery, Glen Dubh Walk, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1SQ.