Scottish Sea Farms announces plans for £35m hatchery
Salmon producer Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) has announced plans to invest £35m in a new freshwater hatchery in Argyll.
The Norway-listed company said it had bought a site at Barcaldine near Oban for the facility.
Planning permission is still required for the project, but the company hopes the hatchery will be up and running in 2019.
The move is expected to create up to 25 permanent skilled jobs.
SSF said the investment was part of plans to invest a total of £70m in improving and maintaining its existing sites and acquiring new ones over the next few years.
The new land-based freshwater facility at Barcaldine will be used to rear young salmon, or smolts, in "bio-secure and environmentally friendly conditions".
SSF, which is owned by SalMar and the Leroy Seafood Group of Norway, said it would embark on a consultation with the local community over its plans.
The company said the new facility would raise its annual production of smolts from five million to 11 million.
SSF managing director Jim Gallagher said: "We have ambitious plans for sustainably growing the volumes of salmon we produce to meet increased demand across the world for premium Scottish salmon.
"As part of this, we have been evaluating locations around Scotland to build and develop our freshwater business, and I am delighted that we have found a site that offers an ideal location providing everything we want in terms of power supply, freshwater and connection to the sea.
"As a result of this investment, Argyll will benefit from high-quality jobs and training opportunities which will include disciplines such as fish husbandry, bio-chemistry and engineering."
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the news.
He said: "It demonstrates long-term confidence in the future of the farmed salmon sector in Scotland and reinforces our reputation as a great place to do business.
"Scotland's world class fish farming sector generates £1.86bn of economic activity every year and supports 8,300 jobs, playing a pivotal role in the rural communities, such as those in the Oban area, where the industry operates.
"Today's announcement also underlines Scottish aquaculture's excellent potential - aided by cutting edge technology and innovation - for further sustainable growth."