Pioneering aquaculture company Great British Prawns has launched the world's first sustainable, land-based, clean water prawn farm at Balfron, Stirlingshire.
The company uses specially developed aquaculture technology and sustainable energy to produce warm water king prawns in clear and clean water in the United Kingdom for the first time.
The brand new Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) cleans and recycles the majority of the water used in the system every day to provide premium locally grown prawns, without contaminating the environment. The 1500 sq m farm is the first step in the company's ambitious expansion plans.
The farm will produce the world's most popular prawn variety, the Pacific Whiteleg Shrimp, better known as the king prawn. Normally native to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the prawns at Balfron will be grown in more than 300 tonnes of water capable of holding up to a million fresh prawns, which will grow to reach an average size of 25g each.
Great British Prawns' land-based farms will deliver the prawns from tank to plate within 24 hours, with no need for freezing and with zero air miles.
The farm has been designed to have minimal and an increasingly reduced impact on its environment. Using sustainable energy from an anaerobic digester on a neighbouring dairy farm, high levels of insulation and ground-breaking bio-filters to clean and recycle its waste, heat that would otherwise have been lost is used to produce food.
As a result, future facilities will be virtually waste free and, because of the closed filtration system, the prawns won't require the antibiotics and other medication, chemicals and manual handling used widely in the existing prawn farming industry, resulting in uniquely ‘clean', fresh prawns.
Harvesting will start in summer, with prawns available initially to chefs within a two-hour radius of the farm (including Edinburgh and Glasgow) at a cost of £23 per kg, a price similar to other shellfish such as langoustines.
Dr Andrew Whiston, technical director for the project, 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. Focusing on getting the Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) exactly right, along with mimicking the precise conditions required for optimal prawn development, has been a precision project that has required painstaking research and engineering. The outcome is an approach that impresses on its engineering, as well as its sustainability and humane methods."