3 December 2018

Scotsman helps keep fish farm’s catch of the day at its very best

Nestled off the west coast of Scotland is the tiny, picturesque Hebridean island of Gigha. Less than 150 miles from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, this little pocket of serenity was known as God’s Island by the Vikings.  It’s now home to one of the UK’s leading organic fish farming businesses, Gigha Halibut.

After more than 20 years researching and developing the most sustainable style of farming halibut, learning about the species’ life cycle and complicated rearing process, the company was established in 2006. Since its creation Gigha Halibut has honed its art, meticulously and humanely harvesting the flat fish, which take a full four years to mature on site.

Over the years, Gigha Halibut has expanded and now distributes to fish merchants in the UK, EU and across the Atlantic in the USA. Despite this success, the company has managed to keep sustainability at its core. “We have 42,000 fish on site, all of which are hand fed with organic feed throughout their years with us,” says Alastair Barge, managing director of Gigha Halibut. “For every mature fish that is harvested, we replace them with a yearling, which has come from our sister site. We use the most humane technique of harvesting our fish, which is by hand. It reduces distress.”

Religiously focusing on ensuring that the operation does not impact the local ecosystem, Gigha Halibut’s land-based farm uses a water circulation system that takes advantage of the tidal streams up and down the Gigha Sound. This pumps the water through the set up and then straight back out into the Atlantic without any pollution, and in an even purer form.

In order to ensure that its produce remains in top condition for transportation, the company knew that it was vital to invest in an ice machine that would be able to keep up with a heavy workload. “It’s an intensive process that requires 600kg of ice each harvest,” says Alastair. “Our fish are caught, killed and then put into ice boxes immediately. They are distributed within 24 hours of leaving their tanks.” With this in mind Gigha Halibut installed a Scotsman MF56 icemaker.

This appliance produces superflake ice, which Alastair says is the perfect type for keeping Gigha Halibut’s produce fresh. “We use super flake ice because it doesn’t harm the skin of the fish. Its reduced water content makes it the perfect preservative; when our vendors in the US receive their deliveries, they are always still full of ice.”

Scotsman superflake ice is similar to standard flake ice, but is more compact and made at just below 0°C, so it is drier and lasts longer. 

Gigha Halibut’s preference for choosing a Scotsman was based on the company’s familiarity with the brand and the quality of the equipment. “Our original machine was a Scotsman unit, and it was very reliable and great value. But after a good number of years of hard work, we needed a replacement.” It was a decision that Alastair feels has been fully vindicated. “The best thing is that a Scotsman icemaker actually stays true to its word.  It produces exactly the amount of ice quoted on purchase. That’s not something that many industrial products live up to.” 

The Scotsman MF56 is a modular ice maker making up to 600kg of superflake ice per 24 hours.  Measuring 538mm wide by 663mm deep and 785mm high, it is designed to fit on top of an ice storage bin. 

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