Revolutionary land-based fish farm puts fresh local king prawns on Scottish menu

The world’s first land-based “clear water” prawn farm is opening in Scotland.

Published 7th Jun 2019
Updated 7 th Jun 2019

The ground-breaking new farm, at Balfron in Stirlingshire, will use specially developed aquaculture technology and green power to produce fresh king prawns for supply to local restaurants.

Most king prawns eaten in the UK come frozen from the Far East and Central America, where intensive farming methods have come under fire over their impact on nature.

Other land-based prawn farms use a process called biofloc, which involves growing the crustaceans in a specially formulated bacterial “soup”.
But a cutting-edge recirculation system at Balfron will see prawns raised in “clean and clear” water for the first time.

It will filter and recycle most water used in the system every day, removing waste and cutting out the need for medicines and chemicals to keep the crustaceans healthy.

The farm, owned by Great British Prawns, runs on energy from an anaerobic digester and uses heat that would otherwise have been lost to produce food for the prawns.

Bosses said the closed filtration system will create a “uniquely clean” product.
The 1,500 square metre farm can house up to one million prawns, which will be delivered from tank to plate within 24 hours – meaning no need for freezing and zero air miles.

The company plans to open a series of similar hubs across the country in the near future.

Chairman and commercial director James McEuen believes the farms could transform the seafood industry.

The prawns will initially only be available to businesses within a two-hour drive, meaning zero  air miles. Picture: Chris Watt

“Most prawns have travelled 6,000 miles to reach a UK consumer,” he said.

“But we know that consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of seafood production, and to be sustainable the future of aquaculture really has to be land-based.

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“This farm has the potential to lead a transformation in the way seafood is produced.

“We aim to meet growing UK consumer demand for regional and local food production with the reassurance of outstanding husbandry, provenance and sustainability.

“This farm is a world-first in terms of technology and sustainability, but it also produces some of the most outstanding and delicious prawns in the world.”

Technical director Dr Andrew Whiston said: “I’ve worked in aquaculture engineering for more than 25 years and this project is truly setting a worldwide precedent that will change the way prawns are farmed in the future.”

Aquaculture is estimated to be worth more than £1 billion a year to the Scottish economy.

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But the salmon farming industry is facing increased scrutiny due to problems with pests and diseases and its effects on the environment.

The Scottish Government, which set up the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre to encourage sustainable growth in the sector and solve industry challenges, has welcomed the new seafood farming business.

A spokesman said: “Aquaculture continues to be one of Scotland’s most innovative industries, and we welcome all new sustainable developments in that sector.”

The first Scottish king prawns will be available this summer – initially only to businesses within a two-hour drive from the farm – at a similar price to langoustines.

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