The three newly-created roles are part of a restructure aimed at helping Scottish Sea Farms in its quest to set a new benchmark for sustainability in the sector and will see the company’s three existing farming regions consolidated into two: the Northern Isles and mainland Scotland.

Commenting on the move, Scottish Sea Farms’ Managing Director Jim Gallagher said: “We will now have two farming regions of a similar size in terms of number of farms, each one overseen by its own dedicated Regional Manager: Innes Weir who joined us in December 2019 with responsibility for our farms on Scottish mainland, and Richard Darbyshire in his new Northern Isles role.

“Richard has been instrumental in the stand-out results achieved on Orkney: from the exceptional team he has built around him and the superior fish they have reared together, to his work identifying the best growing conditions for possible new farms. Combined, it’s delivered some of the strongest biological performances across our farming estate.

“We’re now looking to Richard to bring this same unwavering focus on fish health and appreciation of the local environment to our Shetland farms, helping identify and make the necessary changes to bring about similar scale improvements as achieved on Orkney.”

Darbyshire, who will divide his time between Orkney where he is based and Shetland, said: “I’m ready and raring to go in terms of helping the Shetland team achieve consistently high standards across all farms and functions: infrastructure, equipment, staffing, health and safety, reporting, training and development.

“This is a really exciting time for all of our marine farmers – Orkney, Shetland and mainland too –  with our new Barcaldine RAS Hatchery producing significantly bigger smolts that require less time at sea. We’ve also got more tools at our disposal than ever before to proactively protect fish health. I’m keen to do whatever I can to help both of our Northern Isles teams maximise this strong start and deliver their best biological performances yet.”

Supporting Darbyshire in his new, broader role will be two new Area Managers: one based in Shetland and the other in Orkney, with the recruitment process due to start immediately.

Said Gallagher: “It’s really important that we have local boots on the ground in each area; sector-experienced figures who understand the local marine conditions and have their sleeves rolled up ready to support our farm teams, ensuring they have the resources they need and enabling timely discussions around any additional support they might need.

“Equally, we’re looking to our farm teams to seize this new structure and additional support as a route to delivering the highest standards of fish welfare yet.”