Salmon Firm Cements Investment in Orkney

by Raymond Notarangelo

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Meridian logo for web newsMeridian Salmon Group is hailing the approval of a £1.2million innovative feeding barge as a key platform to support its vital farming operations on Orkney.

The company believe the decision by Orkney Islands Council to grant planning permission for the floating feeding structure will help to streamline its operations, allowing its investment on the islands to grow in a safer and more sustainable way.

The barge – which can store up to 400 tonnes of feed – will allow the group to significantly minimise road, ferry and boat movements, helping to minimise the impact of its operations on local tourism and communities.

The 400 tonne capacity barge – representing a £1.2 million investment by Meridian Salmon Group – is to be located on the south east of Hoy, acting as a hub for the firm’s Hoy cluster of five sites in the area.

Willie Young, Business Support and Primary Processing Director, said: “This is an important decision, both for Orkney and the salmon farming industry on the islands.

“This barge marks a step change in our salmon feeding operations on Orkney, allowing us to operate in a more cost-effective, safer and environmentally-friendly way.

“That in turn, will allow us to continue to develop Orkney as one of our prime farming centres as we will be able to compete commercially with other production sites on the mainland and Shetland where these barges are common place.

“The Fara barge will allow us to store 10-15 days worth of food, which substantially reduces the number of road, ferry and boat journeys we currently have to make. The safety of our staff will also be improved as they will no longer have to undertake multiple boat trips to the sites.

“I also think this is major turning point in recognising the importance that the industry plays in many of the small, fragile communities on Orkney.”

Meridian Salmon Group has also been successful with an application for a barge at Westray which will fulfil a similar function in the Westray area, further strengthening its commitment and investment to the salmon farming industry and the Orkney area.

The company currently employs 92 people in Orkney and operates 16 sites around the islands.

All the Hoy cluster sites are presently serviced from the shore base at Lyness Harbour, which can only store around 30 tonnes of feed.  The feed is transported by truck from Kirkwall to Houton and then ferried to Lyness before crews undertake multiple boat trips to the sea sites.

Ferry trips to Hoy can rise to four crossings per week in peak production, creating space problems during the summer months when ferry traffic is high.

Willie added: “We have operated similar size feeding barges at other sites across Scotland including all our key sites in the Shetland area, all of which have proven to be successful in streamlining and minimising the effect of our operations to the local area.

“It is our hope that the Fara and Westray barges can be just as successful, allowing salmon farming which has become a vital industry in the Orkney area to grow in the most sustainable way possible.”

Meridian Salmon Group is one of the top five salmon farming companies in Scotland, employing 350 people particularly in small communities in Argyll and Bute, the West Coast, Shetland and Orkney. It operates at 61 sea sites and 19 freshwater sites across Scotland and Cumbria.

The company is unique in that it operates a combine integration process involving salmon breeding, hatchery, farming and processing, which gives the company total control over every stage of the production cycle, resulting in fish of consistently high quality.

It is committed to the best practice in its entire farming and aquaculture operations and in protecting the natural environment and eco systems in which they operate, ensuring all its facilities operate to the highest quality and food safety standards.

More information can be found at www.meridiansalmongroup.com

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Raymond Notarangelo

Raymond Notarangelo, co-founded Scottish PR agency, Holyrood Partnership after spotting a gap for colourful and innovative public relations in Edinburgh. He now leads a team providing media relations, social media, video, photography, brand newsrooms, crisis communication and media relations.

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