SALMON farming giant Mowi has announced plans to stop production at two sites in north west Scotland while noting its ambition is to close contentious locations.

The Norwegian company said it planned to relocate production from its Loch Ewe and Loch Duich farms to locations that are more appropriate for modern working methods.

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It said the farms had been identified as candidates for relocation due to the enclosed nature of the sea lochs where they are situated and the sites’ proximity to sensitive wild salmonid habitats.

The closure plan is conditional on Mowi winning regulatory approval to develop new farms or extend existing sites to allow it to replace the production concerned.

Mowi, previously called Marine Harvest, said it had assured the 13 staff at the sites earmarked for closure their employment could continue with the firm at other new or expanded locations.

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Mowi has faced calls to close the Loch Ewe farm from campaigners concerned about its impact on sea trout stocks.

The head of Mowi’s Scottish operations, Ben Hadfield, said: “Our ambition is to close contentious locations, jointly working with wild fishery managers.”

He added: “Success for this relocation initiative will be a net increase in production, a net increase in export value for Scotland and a net reduction in our environmental footprint at sensitive locations.”

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Mr Hadfield said Scotland’s potential exit from the European Union following the Brexit vote in the UK was challenging for Mowi. He noted: “As a major and growing employer in the country, we will do our utmost to retain and develop our experienced staff.”

Mowi has 40 active fish farms in Scotland. It employs 1,500 full time staff, mainly in the Highlands.