PLANS have been submitted to develop Scotland’s first semi-closed fish farm.

Loch Long Salmon (LLS) wants to use the technology – a first for Scotland – to exclude sea lice, catch most of the organic waste and improve the health and welfare of the farmed stock.

While the Loch Long site, near Beinn Reithe, would not be suitable or economical for conventional open-net aquaculture due to its low current. However 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 Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority last week. It will now be assessed ahead of formal public notification and the official consultation process.

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“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 at 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. 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. They therefore have minimal impact on nearby marine wildlife.