By Scott Wright

THE managing director of Scottish Sea Farms has stepped down from a key industry role as the competition watchdog prepares to pronounce on the company’s £164 million acquisition of Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK.

Scottish Sea Farms said the decision by Jim Gallagher to step down from the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre board would allow him to “give his undivided focus to the opportunities immediately ahead of the company”.

The move comes shortly before the Competition and Markets Authority is due to announce its phase one decision on the company’s acquisition of Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK, which was unveiled in July.

Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK, which is being sold by Grieg Seafood ASA, has 21 marine farms, a freshwater hatchery and a processing facility. It harvested about 16,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon in 2020.

Mr Gallagher said it has been a “tremendous honour to be a part of the SAIC board for so many years”, having been part of the team that scoped out the benefits of an innovation centre dedicated to aquaculture a decade ago. But he said the “opportunities immediately ahead of Scottish Sea Farms have the potential to be equally transformative in terms of the company’s own growth and development, and I am keen to give those my undivided focus and attention.”

Scottish Sea Farms said it is planning more than £40 million of investments in 2022 to maximise farmed fish health and minimise its environmental impact.