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A plan to build Scotland’s first caviar farm at Cairndow has been unanimously approved by Argyll and Bute councillors.
The Fynest Caviar Company will now start producing Osteria caviar from Russian and Siberian sturgeon in three buildings on the site of Ardkinglas sawmill at the head of Loch Fyne.
The Edinburgh-based company hopes to have Scottish caviar on the market by Christmas 2020, initially producing 1.5 tonnes of caviar a year, which can sell for more than £1,000 per kilo, and growing up to three tonnes annually. The £4m project aims to turnover £3.64m over six years and to hire seven full-time employees, including a general manager and technical staff.
Accountant Fraser Niven, one of the company’s three directors, said: ‘We are delighted the council recognised the significant benefits to the area that the company’s plans represent. Not only will it bring jobs, but the board’s determination is that the company’s produce will be synonymous with quality and richness reflecting the area’s international reputation.’
Currently the UK market consumes 19 tonnes of caviar a year, some of which is produced by the UK’s only existing caviar farm in Devon.
Another director, Stephen O’Brien, added: ‘The object is to become a leading, high quality and profitable niche producer of caviar and sturgeon meat based on an ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly operation in Scotland.’
The application received a 5,000 signature petition from animal rights group PETA, with names from all over the world. PETA director Elisa Allen said it was ‘appalling’ councillors ‘refused to listen to the calls of thousands of locals who opposed the plan’.
‘In the wild, sturgeons live in open rivers and migrate vast distances, but on commercial fish farms, such as this one, they’re confined to severely crowded tanks, where they have no option but to spend their lives swimming in endless circles and are highly susceptible to stress and aggression.
‘At the end of their miserable lives, they’ll be cut open so their eggs can be taken for a so-called ‘delicacy’ which most people have no appetite for.’