An organic salmon from one of Cooke's Orkney farms. Photo: Cooke Aquaculture Scotland.

Cooke Scotland plans 3,850t offshore salmon farm

Cooke Aquaculture Scotland has applied for planning permission for its second fully offshore salmon farm following the success of its first at East Skelwick, Orkney.

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The new organic farm, also in Orkney, will be located approximately 3km east of the southern tip of Papa Westray, and more than 4km from the closest landfall on Westray.

Known as East Moclett, the farm will comprise six 160-metre circumference pens.

Using the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s recommended modelling for deposition and distribution of fish faeces, the site is calculated to have the capacity for a maximum stocked biomass of 3,850 tonnes. Maximum production biomass per 22-month cycle would be 3,751 tonnes of organic salmon.

The new site is slightly further offshore than East Skelwick, which is 2.5km from the nearest landfall.

Ben Johnson: Site choice followed an extensive process. Photo: LinkedIn.

Extensive modelling

Cooke Scotland’s environmental development manager, Ben Johnson, said: “The proposed development location was selected following extensive modelling, environmental survey and pre-application consultation with local stakeholders.

“The offshore location, significant water depth and tidal flows at East Moclett will minimise effects on the local environment. As well as fully assessing and modelling the site to confirm its suitability for organic salmon farming, the planning application also details how Cooke Aquaculture Scotland will minimise the environmental impact of the farm throughout its lifetime.

Expanded processing

“If consented the proposed development will create up to six well paid, full-time seawater jobs, which we aim to recruit from the local populations in Westray and Papa Westray wherever possible. It is likely that we will need to expand our processing facilities in Orkney to accommodate the increase in volume, creating more jobs at our packing station in Hatston industrial estate in Kirkwall in the process.

“Cooke Aquaculture Scotland is the largest producer of organic Scottish salmon which we grow exclusively in Orkney. If consented we anticipate this would become our newest Soil Association organic-certified site in Orkney and we will stock this site with organic smolts, potentially before the end of the year if all necessary consents are in place which is great news for the islands and Orkney’s deserved reputation for premium food and drink.”

Last year Cooke’s site at Bay of Holland, Stronsay, Orkney became its 10th site to achieve Soil Association organic certification last year.

Cooke is the largest producer of organic Scottish salmon. Its customers include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.