Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) Managing Director Jim Gallagher stepped down from the board of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) on Wednesday, to give his “undivided” attention to the company as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) mulls the proposed acquisition of Grieg’s Shetland operations.

In June, Scottish Sea Farms signed a share purchase agreement to acquire 100 percent of the shares in Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK -- the parent company of Grieg Seafood's Shetland business -- for £164 million ($227 million/€190 million).

Scottish Sea Farms -- which is co-owned 50/50 by Leroy Seafood Group and SalMar -- said the move will allow it to "deliver optimal biological performance and help meet rising demand for premium quality, Scottish-grown salmon."

Gallagher's decision to leave the SAIC board comes just weeks before the Dec. 15 deadline given by the CMA for announcing its phase one decision on Scottish Sea Farms’ acquisition of Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Limited.

Scottish Sea Farms is also planning more than £40 million (€47.7 million/$53.4 million) in key strategic investments in 2022 as part of its ongoing drive to maximize farmed fish health and minimize any impact on the environment.

Gallagher’s involvement in SAIC dates back almost 10 years, when he was part of a multi-stakeholder advisory group tasked with scoping out the benefits of introducing an Innovation Centre dedicated to Scottish aquaculture.

Following its formation, Gallagher was appointed as one the founding members of the SAIC board, going on to serve two terms.