A ScaleAQ 400-tonne steel feed barge like that which is being supplied to salmon farmer Bakkafrost Scotland.

ScaleAQ anchors position in Scotland with two new feed barges

600-tonne concrete and 400-tonne steel hybrids will be delivered to Bakkafrost next year

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Aquaculture equipment supplier ScaleAQ has signed a contract with Bakkafrost Scotland for two feed barges, both due for delivery next year.

The Nova 600-tonne concrete barge, the first of its kind in Scotland, and 400-tonne steel SeaFarm Feeder model, will be fitted with 180Kwh hybrid systems and put to work at Bakkafrost Scotland’s farms off the west coast and Hebrides.

The deal follows the installation of the company’s Orbit HD camera systems at three of Bakkafrost Scotland's sites in the Western Isles last year and marks the growing presence of Norwegian-owned Scale in the Scottish market.

Equipment and service

Graham Smith, general manager of ScaleAQ UK, said that with three key locations in Fort William, at Arnish Point on the Isle of Lewis, and in Shetland, plus technical support along the west coast of Ireland, Scale’s technicians can provide local knowledge and seven-days-a-week service for customers.

“Winning a two-barge contract with Bakkafrost Scotland is a fantastic achievement and we are very much looking forward to working with the Bakkafrost Scotland team and seeing these new barges in place next year,” said Smith.

“Coming from a salmon farming background, I know only too well how important good equipment is, but it needs to be backed up with good service and support as well, which is a top priority in ScaleAQ.”

Smith will be at Aqua Nor in Trondheim next week alongside his Norwegian colleagues on the ScaleAQ stand (A-149), where he hopes to welcome many of Scale’s customers from Scotland and Ireland.

Strategic site

The company has recently equipped a number of Scottish salmon producers with pens assembled from parts sent directly from Froya in Norway to its Arnish facility, established in early 2021.

This was where the first 200-metre-circumeference pens for the Scottish sector were built in 2021 and the location is expected to play an important role in the long-term development of Scale.

“Pen construction on Lewis is gathering momentum,” said Smith. “Having a site dedicated to building bigger pens as the sector moves into larger pen sizes and more offshore, high-energy locations demonstrates our commitment to Scottish farmers.”

From left: Charlie Lawrence, HIE property manager (major projects; Joanna Peteranna, HIE area manager for Innse Gall (Western Isles); Graeme Smith, UK and Ireland general manager for ScaleAQ; and Tavish Scott, chief executive of sector trade body Salmon Scotland, on a visit to Arnish last month.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Scottish sector body Salmon Scotland, visited Arnish with representatives of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in July.

Scott said: “ScaleAQ’s investment in a pen building yard at Arnish is a strategically important development for Scotland’s salmon sector.

“The salmon supply chain is a major component of why the sector is so economically significant to Scotland, especially in coastal and island areas. The jobs and wages that ScaleAQ brings to Arnish are an illustration of why salmon farming has a sustainable future in the Hebrides and Scotland.”

Health-driven products

Fish health is the driver behind the trend towards larger pens, offering more room for the fish, better water flow, and better oxygen, and Smith said health and welfare were also uppermost in the development of two new products that Scale will unveil at Aqua Nor.

The semi-closed system, Vortex, has a 16-metre-deep lice shield to stop sea lice entering the pen, and an upwelling system to draw in oxygenated water from below the layer of the water column where lice are usually found.

The Subsea system is a submersible pen designed for exposed locations, with a roof net to keep the fish in the pen and an air dome to enable them to refill their swim bladders.

Both will be launched during a ScaleAQ evening reception in Trondheim on Tuesday, 22 August.

Exciting step

“This is an exciting step forward for Scale and the industry as a whole,” said Smith, who was formerly Shetland region production manager for Scottish Sea Farms and has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector.

“The Vortex pumps lice-free seawater up from the depths below the pen, reducing lice infection and protecting against algae, while the Subsea system can submerge to depths up to 30 metres, removing the challenge of sea lice and providing stable temperatures.

“Innovation is critical to us as a company and these two products are all about improving health and welfare and allowing the sector to grow in a sustainable manner.”

As well as the stand at Aqua Nor's Trondheim Spektrum venue, ScaleAQ will be showcasing a SeaFarm Feeder Center 400 feed barge, an FR560 floating collar (157m with a 400mm bottom ring), and several workboats at Skansen harbour, Trondheim, next week.