LOCH Long could soon become home to the “future of salmon farming in Scotland” if a first-of-its-kind project is given the go-ahead.

Recently-established company Loch Long Salmon Ltd (LLS) has identified five locations, including one at Beinn Reithe, near Arrochar, for the introduction of semi-closed farming systems to grow the fish.

These sustainable systems are already operating in Norway and have been designed to capture and remove natural organic waste from the salmon.

They also exclude sea lice which will eliminate the need for chemical treatments or the physical removal of lice, so improving fish welfare and removing the risk to wild fish.

LLS is as a joint venture founded by Trimara Services, an aquaculture services company, in partnership with Simply Blue Aquaculture, part of blue economy developer, Simply Blue Energy.

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Trimara’s founding partner, Stewart Hawthorn, is described as a “highly experienced salmon farmer” with over 30 years in the sector, and the project aims to raise 15-20,000 tonnes of salmon per annum.

Mr Hawthorn said: “I’m looking forward to farming fish in ideal conditions in the natural ocean environment.

“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.

“Salmon farming has been vital for Scotland’s rural economy. 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.”

Project founders say they are engaged in a pre-application process for the Loch Long site with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and they have had positive initial feedback from environmental bodies.

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They also say there have been meetings with local community groups and an event for the public will be held during 2020.

The Loch Long site will be a first-of-its-kind project for Scotland creating local jobs in Argyll and Bute, according to the organisers, demonstrating “the pathway for the future of salmon farming in the natural ocean environment”.

Christoph Harwood, also a director of LLS, said: “Uniquely the LLS farms will be adapted to capture and remove most of the salmon’s organic waste which in conventional aquaculture settings settles on the seabed. Our system will capture the waste, pump it ashore and concentrate it into a valuable resource.

“It can then be used as an on-land fertilizer or in anaerobic digestion energy production. LLS is committed to being part of the circular economy in Scotland.”

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