A new £750,000 fish farm boat was named during a special ceremony at Mallaig in Lochaber this morning.
The Beinn Airein, after the highest peak on the Isle of Muck which is a landing craft with a crew of two, will be used as a general purpose service boat for Marine Harvest Scotland’s new salmon farm on Muck. Its duties will include net cleaning and net changing.
And the vessel, built by Maritiem Cluster Friesland in the Netherlands, was named by Rosie Curtis, who is the company’s salmon farm manager at Laga Bay in Loch Sunart.
Marine Harvest business support manager, Steve Bracken, who is based in Fort William said the new boat was the “final piece in the jigsaw” for the company’s £3million investment on the remote island.
The company is also in the process of building five homes for its employees on the island.
Mr Bracken said: “We have just received our new feed barge for the site, which was built at Gael Force Marine in Inverness, and the Beinn Airein completes the equipment that we need there.
“The farm will employ 10 staff, who will work two weeks on and two weeks off. So there will be five staff working for two weeks at a time and then off for two weeks.
“It is already fully operational, but, until the houses are ready, the staff are commuting from Mallaig.”
He added that the landing craft, which is just over 59ft long with a 23ft beam, was the first of its type purchased by the company.
Mr Bracken said: “Different sites have different requirements and this provides what we need on Muck.”
The new development on Muck is one of the first so-called “Open Sea” farms that are planned for the waters off the west coast.
It has been stocked with smolts grown in Marine Harvest’s new £16million hatchery at Lochailort.
And it forms part of an £80million investment programme by the company to meet the growing demand for Scottish salmon.
It comprises 10 circular pens, each one almost 400ft in diameter. Up to 4,000 tonnes of fresh salmon will be grown in the pens every two years.
Once grown, the salmon will be transported by well-boat to the harvesting station at Mallaig and then by road to Fort William for gutting.