November 7, 2008


Scotland's Loch Duart expands salmon farm



One of Scotland's principal salmon farming firms is embarking on a EUR 3.7 million development plan which was recently initiated with a major upgrade of its hatchery opened by celebrity chef Nick Nairn.


Loch Duart Ltd, based in north-west Sutherland, is expanding to keep up with the demand for its high quality fish from caterers and retailers at home and abroad. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved £ 742,000 (US$1.17 million) support towards the company's ambitious proposals, which also include the acquisition and infrastructure for three sea loch sites in the Uists.


The firm currently has nine farm sites in Eddrachillies Bay near Scourie. All production is RSPCA Freedom Food approved and the firm has made substantial investment in the hatchery development at nearby Duartmore. The hatchery will now be operated using lower stocking levels and welfare-orientated technology which leads the industry in freshwater salmon rearing.


By taking over extra sea loch sites in the Uists, LDL plans to increase production by 50 per cent and create 19 new jobs over the next three years. The company produces 3600 tonnes of fresh whole gutted salmon   per annum, equating to around 2.5 per cent of total Scottish production, distributed to both UK and overseas markets. The company commands a premium price through a suite of welfare and environmental initiatives such as full year fallows, sustainable feed for the fish, polyculture and Freedom Food approval.


Archie Macdonald, HIE area manager based in the Outer Hebrides, said the investment in both the hatchery and the new farm sites will allow the company to provide accountability for its product through every stage of development, a sought-after requirement at the top end of the market.


Keith Muir, account manager for HIE based in the Caithness and Sutherland area team explained that the two projects would make an important contribution to supporting employment and population levels in the remote and economically fragile areas in which they are based. The development will also help to protect the future of North West Sutherland as it is one of the most fragile areas and has few alternative employment opportunities.


Alan Balfour, LDL director, said support from HIE is integral to the two developments. The expansion project to the Outer Hebrides is a challenge but a vital one for LDL vital if demands are going to be met for Loch Duart salmon which is growing all over the world.


LDL recently acquired Salar Smokehouse in South Uist following the previous owners' retirement. LDL has been supplying salmon to the company for some time and the smokehouse is situated on the quayside next to the Loch Carnan sea-site.


Earlier this year Loch Duart won one of Britain's most coveted commercial awards, the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

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