INVERNESS company Gael Force has won a contract from The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) to build a state-of-the-art feed barge for the fish farming group’s site at Portree on Skye.

SSC, which employs around 500 people across 60 sites on the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides, did not put a value on the contract but said it represented a “significant investment” in its operational infrastructure.

Gael Force, which employs most of its UK workforce of around 180 at Inverness, highlighted plans to create another 20 jobs on the back of the contract win and the general buoyancy of demand for feed barges.

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SSC noted the award of the contract followed consent being secured for an additional 2,000 tonnes of capacity for its site in Portree.

The fish farmer said work on the 400-tonne, 14-metre SeaMate feeding barge would begin “imminently” at Gael Force’s Inverness base. The barge has been designed by Gael Force, which has a longstanding relationship with SSC.

Stewart Graham, group managing director at Gael Force, said: “This new barge will be one of the most sophisticated of its kind in Scotland. This announcement with The Scottish Salmon Company, along with an increased demand for feed barges, [sees] us enter the new year on a great footing, allowing us to increase our workforce by an additional 20 people in the first quarter.”