Marine Harvest wins go ahead for wrasse hatchery
MARINE Harvest has won planning consent to build a wrasse hatchery in Machrihanish that will help meet the growing demand for farmed cleaner fish. Plans for the 20,000sq m plant were first mooted two years ago but met with opposition from a local conservation group. However, support for the project, which will create up to 10 jobs, outweighed the objections and last month the application was unanimously approved by Argyll and Bute’s planning committee, the Campbeltown Courier reported.
Once completed it is expected to produce around 800,000 wrasse a year. It will be located adjacent to the Machrihanish Marine Environmental Research Laboratory that produces around 200,000 farmed wrasse annually, in a joint farming programme with Scottish Sea Farms.
Steve Bracken, Marine Harvest’s business support manager, who represented the company at the planning meeting along with Marine Harvest environment manager Chris Read, and Paul Featherstone, who runs the current Machrihanish hatchery, welcomed the decision and the fact that it had widespread community backing.
‘We’re delighted because out of the planning committee of 10 councillors, all 10 voted in favour,’ said Bracken.
‘Now we need to look at all our plans for cleaner fish and then once we’ve done that we’ll come up with a better plan of what we want to do.
‘We’ve got to look to the future; with the industry expanding there is going to be a requirement for a greater number of hatchery reared cleaner fish.’
As well as securing planning permission for Machrihanish, Marine Harvest is also developing Anglesey Aquaculture in north Wales, and possibly other sites.The Anglesey hatchery, formerly a sea bass farm, needs a lot of upgrading before it becomes operational, said Bracken.
Before the planning meeting, in Campbeltown, councillors had been given a short tour of the proposed site, facing Uisead beach, north of the Gauldrons.
Save the Gauldrons protestors, led by Sound of Kintyre based Bob Miller, vowed to continue the battle to preserve the coastal environment.
‘The development can only proceed if the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Marine Scotland approve the Controlled Activities Regulations,’ he said.‘These will provide a number of further hurdles.’
In its approval,Argyll and Bute Council found that Marine Harvest’s application was an exceptional case and did meet the Area Capacity Evaluation criteria.
Marine Harvest managing director, Ben Hadfield, said:‘We are delighted that the council has supported this project which will allow for an increase in the production of wrasse to tackle the challenge of sea lice.’
Above: Planning members at the existing Machrihanish facility (Campbeltown Courier)