The Inverkerry Hatchery and Smolt Unit at Gairloch in Wester Ross will organically produce around 1.2 million young salmon every year, before they are transferred a short distance to the wild sea to mature.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, said: “This significant investment in the new facilities at Inverkerry is another example of how Scotland’s aquaculture industry is championing and driving innovation.
“Such innovation will ensure the sector continues to deliver improvements, in this case to fish health and welfare.
“It is imperative the aquaculture industry, and its supply chain, continues to invest in research, development and innovation to support the sector’s long-term sustainability.”
The major upgrade of the Hendrix Genetics site directly supports five local jobs and ensures the hatchery will have a long-term future supplying its partner Organic Sea Harvest with quality smolts.
Trade body Salmon Scotland has welcomed the unveiling, which delivers on the sector’s ambition to become world-leading in the provision of healthy, tasty, nutritious food, produced in the most responsible and sustainable way.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “For our farmers, everything revolves around good biology. This means high standards of fish health and welfare throughout a salmon’s lifecycle.
“Scottish salmon is the best in the world because we adhere to the strictest animal welfare and sustainability standards and this massive investment into the Inverkerry hatchery will deliver the highest organic certification.
“The successful partnership between Organic Sea Harvest and Hendrix Genetics is helping to deliver on our sustainability pledge to be world-leading in the provision of nutritious food produced in the most responsible way.”
Scottish salmon farms operate to the strictest standards and regulations in the world, and Skye-based Organic Sea Harvest is certified organic by the Soil Association which ensures the highest levels of animal welfare and the health of the marine environment, with stocking densities of 99 percent water and only 1 percent fish.
Located at the end of the River Kerry, the Inverkerry site was first built in 1984, with the upgrade getting underway in 2020.
The revamped site will enable sustainable growth of the sector, which directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and supports more than 3,600 suppliers, with a further 10,000 jobs dependent on farm-raised salmon.
Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest fresh food export, with international sales of more than £600million, while sales of all salmon in UK shops soared to £1.1 billion last year as consumers increased their consumption of the protein-rich fish.
Jarl van den Berg, general manager of Hendrix Genetics, said: “Scottish salmon is an international success story which starts with high quality salmon eggs and smolts with the best survival, health and growth rates. We’re proud to be part of this origin story, producing the highest quality organic smolts for Organic Sea Harvest, which go on to thrive at sea.”
Ove Thu, chief executive of Organic Sea Harvest, said: “With the opening of the upgraded Gairloch hatchery, the production cycle of the fine organic salmon from Isle of Skye is complete.
“Thanks to our friends at Hendrix, we have established the safe and steady supply of high quality smolts we need for today’s production at Organic Sea Harvest.
“There is also some room for further investments to support our ambitions to grow. We are looking forward to continuing the excellent partnership with Hendrix Genetics on our mission to establish Organic Sea Harvest as the leading producer of high quality Scottish organic salmon.”