Second-hand but not second-best: the feed barge now operating at Loch Eriboll has been increased in size and upgraded. Photo: SSF.

SSF’s bigger barge ups efficiency at Eriboll

Scottish Sea Farms has spent £570,000 to refurbish a feed barge for its most northerly mainland farm at Sian Bay, Loch Eriboll.

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The barge, previously stationed in Shetland, has been extensively upgraded at Macduff Shipyards to meet the demands of its new site.

As well as a ScaleAQ four-line feeding system, the barge has had a new bow fitted to increase capacity to 160 tonnes. The wheelhouse and accommodation have been extensively modernised with room on board for all the staff, once social distancing measures have been fully relaxed.

Richard Darbyshire: "Major step forward."

Steep beach

The barge, which replaces its existing 40-tonne barge, will transform operations, Richard Darbyshire, regional manager for Orkney and Eriboll, told SSF’s new staff newspaper, The Source.

“The beach is quite steep, and loading feed wasn’t ideal, so the fact that we now have a bigger barge and can get the feed delivered directly by boat and don’t need to store it in a shed, is a major step forward,” said Darbyshire.

“It also makes the team more efficient because they’re not wasting time moving feed all day. We didn’t have the capacity before to do it any other way, it wasn’t viable to send in a big boat to fill that little barge. Now it’s no problem at all.”

Darbyshire said recycling a barge rather than buying a brand new one made economic and environmental sense on this occasion.

Sian Bay’s previous barge will now go to the neighbouring farm at Kempie Bay, where it will be more suited to the different set-up of square pens.

SSF has installed faster broadband to allow remote feed monitoring. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: SSF.

Faster broadband

The centralised feeding system, which cost £130,000, replaces the old 60mm feeding pipes with 90mm pipes.

Feeding at the Sian Bay and Kempie Bay farms, which are both managed by long-term SSF employee Johnny Morrison, will be controlled remotely by camera as a result of a new faster broadband network.

Darbyshire told The Source: “The area is really remote and as such the existing broadband could struggle at times. The cameras and videos for the new feeding system use a lot of bandwidth, meaning faster broadband was needed – and delivered, thanks to Scottish Sea Farms’ IT experts Colin Kupris and Forbes Baylis, and Ricky Cooper from the Orkney engineering team.”