A new salmon farm venture has announced plans to develop ‘low impact’ sites which it claims will help underpin sustainable growth for the industry.

The Loch Long Salmon business will follow an approach developed in Norway which it reckons can help address concerns about potential animal health issues and the impact of fish farms on the environment.

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The semi-closed system involves developing farms that are enclosed in impermeable bags to separate the fish they contain from the ocean. The farming enclosures are filled with water pumped from deep below the surface of the sea.

Loch Long Salmon said the system can eliminate sea lice and harmful plankton. It allows organic waste produced by salmon to be captured for use as a fertilizer or in energy production.

“By using this type of farming system, we will have healthier fish that do not need to be constantly treated for sea lice. This means that the fish can be left to grow in a stress-free, clean environment," said Loch Long Salmon director Stewart Hawthorn.

Noting the economic importance of salmon farming, he added: “By using these low impact systems we will ensure that the industry continues to prosper and support the livelihood of people in our rural environment.”

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Loch Long Salmon expects to develop its first site in the eponymous loch in Argyll.

The site is called Beinn Reithe. It is expected to start stocking fish in 2023. The farm will employ 12 people directly and create work for the local supply chain.

Loch Long Salmon said it expects to identify five locations that would be suitable for semi-closed farming systems in all. These could be used to grow fish from the young smolt stage through to harvest size.

It has engaged the Johnston Carmichael chartered accountancy operation to help raise £3 million to support the initial phase of development.

The Loch Long Salmon venture was established by Simply Blue Energy, which is working on marine projects in areas such as offshore wind and wave power, and Trimara Services, which supplies net-cleaning equipment.Mr Hawthorn is a director of Stirling-based Trimara.

On its website the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation says around 70 per cent of Scottish salmon are certified to the RSPCA Farm Assured scheme. The remaining salmon are reared to high welfare standards under other schemes.