Marine Harvest Hatchery & Recirculation Facility in Lochailort

October 23, 2014

Hailed as one of the largest and most advanced recirculation centers in the world, Marine Harvest’s new 13,500m² fish hatchery and recirculation center in Lochailort, Scotland opened for business this year. It may come as no surprise that Lochailort, located in the beautiful Scottish highlands, was chosen as a prime location for the new facility. The area holds a rich history of salmon farming innovation by Marine Harvest dating back to 1965.

marine_harvest_02However, the decision to build the new recirculation center and hatchery in this location was not based on history but on geography. Situated in the center of Marine Harvest’s farming operations, the advanced recirculation center is conveniently located for supplying parr to the freshwater lochs and smolt to sea sites. It also has the critical advantage of being in the same location of an older and much smaller recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) hatchery replaced by the new facility. The spectacular mountains and lochs surrounding the hatchery are the reason why this area was selected for the filming of many major motion pictures including the Harry Potter series. Although natural surroundings are coincidental to the development of this project, consideration of the beauty around the new facility was not. Sustainable best-practices in building and construction by the Robertson Group, retained by Marine Harvest for this extensive project, makes this fish hatchery – and its natural surroundings – an outstanding example of an eco-friendly facility.

marine_harvest_01In the building’s interior, Marine Harvest’s advanced recirculation center will produce 5mm smolts to meet increased demand. According to the company, this is due to recent expansions in saltwater sites and 6 million parr for stocking freshwater loch on-growing sites. Incorporating an industry-leading aquaculture infrastructure, the new recirculation center has the capacity to house 11 million salmon. The Robertson Group says the recirculation center pumps 10 million liters of water (the equivalent of four Olympic-sized swimming pools) through the building per hour – 365 days a year. The recirculation unit is comprised of a freshwater intake, a water treatment plant, an egg incubation facility, process water pipework, and varying sizes of circulation tanks.

The hatchery has four main independent units, one fry unit, one parr unit and two smolt units. During the development phase, project manager John Richmond visited existing RAS units in order to better understand the benefits and weaknesses of each. The hatchery is designed around three main egg intakes. The incubation of eggs and fry is performed in four independent units with their own recirculation and temperature control systems.

The new facility has already received world-wide attention with interest from one of China’s leading food manufacturers in addition to several major retail outlets in the UK. According to many reports, Marine Harvest’s recirculation center and hatchery represents best practices in development, construction, production, health and sustainability. Further details of this remarkable facility with photographs taken during construction of its interior can be found here.