Cages and a workboat at the SSF site at Westerbister, Orkney. The company is to spend more than £3m to equip its new Orkney site at Scapa Flow. Photo: SSF.

Salmon farmer spending £3m with Scottish firms to equip Scapa Flow site

Salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) has revealed that it is to spend more than £3 million with suppliers throughout Scotland as it prepares to open its forthcoming new salmon farm off Lober Rock in the Scapa Flow, Orkney.

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The investment includes a 200-tonne steel feed barge which will be the first to be built by Gael Force Group at the former Corpach Boatyard at Fort William.

SSF will spend a total of £1.74m with Inverness-based Gael Force for the barge, moorings, 12 x 80m salmon pens, underwater cameras and environmental monitoring technology.

Catamaran workboat

A further £665,000 will go to Macduff Shipyards in Aberdeenshire for a 14-metre catamaran workboat, and £324,000 will be spent with net supplier W&J Knox in Ayrshire. The contract includes Seal Pro netting systems to help keep the company’s fish safe from predators and maintain SSF’s record of no seal shootings in Orkney for more than three years.

Leask Marine in Orkney has been awarded a £106,000 contract to secure the moorings, barge and pens at the farm, which will begin operating in the autumn.

Jim Gallagher: Products "tried and tested" to withstand Orkney marine conditions.

Buying Scottish

SSF managing director Jim Gallagher said: “These orders will equip our new farm with the latest technologies, ensuring we’re Scottish Technical Standard 2020 compliant and giving our salmon the very best environment in which to grow.

“We’ve worked with several of these suppliers for many years now as part of our long-standing policy of buying Scottish wherever possible and know their products to be tried and tested with regards to withstanding Orkney marine conditions.”

SSF’s Orkney regional production manager Richard Darbyshire added that the salmon pens will be constructed by Gael Force Fusion on the remote island of Sanday, generating spending on everything from hauliers, ferry travel and accommodation at the nearby Kettletoft Hotel, to generators, welfare units and sundries for as much as three months or more.

Stewart Graham: Six jobs created as a direct result of the barge order.

Increasing workforce

The new farm will create six new full-time roles and lead to further job creation across the supply chain. Gael Force Group founder and managing director Stewart Graham said: “As part of a planned increase of 10 new employees in Lochaber, we have already advertised six newly-created fabricator roles as a direct result of the barge being built at Gael Force Boatbuilding in Corpach, and we are also increasing our workforce with multiple new roles at our pen-building facility, Gael Force Fusion in Oban.”

Leask Marine managing director Douglas Leask said: “This latest expansion is great news, both for Scottish Sea Farms and locally. It secures steady employment for our specialist dive teams, increases opportunities for one of our larger vessels operating in Orkney waters and, in turn, will bring additional onward spend in our local communities.” 

The latest contract awards follow a year in which SSF spent a record £113m across 676 local suppliers – £33m of which was investment in its new £46m RAS smolt hatchery at Barcaldine – equating to 75% of total supplier spend in 2018, with plans to invest a further £25m in capital infrastructure projects over the next 12 months.