The English company FloGro has managed to obtain the planning permission for a site in South Lincolnshire where they will establish the United Kingdom’s first industrial-scale Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) prawn farm with an initial production unit for 250T p.a. It is hoped to start building in the first quarter of 2024 with the first harvest being available mid to end first quarter 2026.
The new company, established to capitalize on the growing appetite for British-produced seafood, will be capable of growing in this site to more than 2,500 T p.a. of fresh king prawns (Pacific vannamei), as demand builds. To make this happen FloGro has assembled a team of world-class specialists to deliver the company’s plans.
“After 5 years of R&D we are now ready to scale up and are set to launch the UK’s first industrial-scale sustainable, minimal-carbon, zero-waste RAS prawn farm that will eventually be capable of producing in excess of 2,500 tones per annum,” they said.
GBP 5 million UK Government grant
These are in the process of being funded and FloGro has recently been awarded a GBP 5 million UK Government grant from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for the first module to include hatchery, processing, dispatch, water treatment, solar and ground source heat pumps.
Is important to highlight that FloGro was established in 2011 by Ralph Maxwell, the Managing Director, to capitalize on the growing appetite of the consumers for British-produced seafood, immediately after winning an Innovate UK grant to run feasibility trials for a closed-loop recycling aquaculture system (RAS) aimed at producing high quality prawns.
A long process
For five years, FloGro has been operating a Research and Development (R&D) prawn farm in Lincolnshire working with recycling aquaculture system experts, importing larvae from abroad. During this period, they have identified optimal shrimp husbandry through careful application and integration of larval breeding with specific grow out feed ‘recipes’, along with robust RAS operation and bio-security protocols.
“Our prawns led to rave reviews from top restaurateurs and premium food retailers, whilst during covid lockdown we took the opportunity to grow a significant direct-to-consumer audience, who were willing to pay a premium per kilogram for locally grown, fresh, high quality, king prawns delivered to their home within 24 hours of harvest,” they explained.
Unprecedented wealth of knowledge accumulated
After the announcement of the planning permission has been granted, from FloGro explained that their R&D farm “has been invaluable in building brand awareness and proving the demand for locally produced prawns at a premium price. Critically, we have accumulated an unprecedented wealth of knowledge around feed, animal behavior, optimal growing environment and conditions to maximize yield and profitability.”
GBP 16.3 million from Defra’s Seafood Fund
The UK Seafood Fund, endowed with GBP 100 million to cover the cost of new projects, awarded GBP 16.3 million from Defra’s Seafood Fund to UK aquaculture companies. In addition to Flo-Gro, companies such as Scottish Sea Farms, Mowi Scotland, For the Love of the Sea (Câr-Y-Môr) and Inverlussa Shellfish received funding.
Among these, the largest grant recipients were Flo-Gro, Scottish Sea Farms and Mowi Scotland, all of which received GBP 5 million towards the cost of new projects.