Ma­rine Har­vest wins go ahead for wrasse hatch­ery

Fish Farmer - - United Kingdom News -

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)

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