21st August 2018
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Angling association loses hatchery as Kergord is put on the open market

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Shetland Anglers Association is urgently seeking a new hatchery after its lease at Kergord was term­inated and the building allegedly “rendered inoperable”.

According to the angling associ­ation it was never given the option of extending its £1,500 a year lease and extensive reinstatement work would need to be undertaken before the hatchery could be up and running again.

One angler, who did not want to be identified, questioned the legality of “damaging” the hatchery while it was still being leased by the angling club. He claimed that the fish ladder had been filled in, pipework removed from the building and the dam emptied.

“It has been rendered unusable as a hatchery and is no longer viable as a hatchery without major re-invest­ment,” he said. “I doubt the legality of this, but our main concern is that we have been left without a hatchery.”

The anglers association has re­stocked large numbers of sea trout grown in Kergord into areas that have traditionally supported strong populations.

Association secretary Alec Miller said: “We are not happy about this. We were surprised that we were not consulted when the work was undertaken as we were the lease holders at the time.”

The hatchery owner, Shetland Arts, is selling the building and surrounding land to raise capital following an expensive and pro­tracted dispute with construction firm DITT over the building of the Mareel arts centre. It had given the owner of the adjacent land, Brian Anderson, permission to remove sluices from the dam after he complained about flooding on his ground.

Mr Anderson, who also owns the access for servicing the dam, said that he was forced to open the sluices after years of futile complaining about flooded ditches on his land above the dam.

He is presently negotiating with Shetland Arts to buy the hatchery. The organisation meanwhile con­firm­ed in a statement that the centre sluice, which feeds the hatchery through a pipe, had been “inoperable for some time” and that draining the dam allowed it be inspected for the first time since the trust had bought the building.

The work was done on 12th and 13th of October, two weeks before the lease expired, to take advantage of a period of dry weather before the wet autumn weather set in.

Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons claimed his organisation only became aware of the anglers’ intention to renew the lease after the maintenance work had been carried out.

“Regrettably Shetland Arts’ decision to sell the property has not enabled us to renew the lease and we are aware that the angling association are currently sourcing an alternative to the hatchery,” Mr Gibbons added.

“The work has also opened up the watercourse to allow wild fish to head up stream beyond the dam without obstruction. A number of sea trout have been observed in recent weeks using this new route.”

The anglers association had an emergency meeting last Friday to discuss the future of rearing its fish. It has meanwhile put its trout broodstock into the Loch of Brouster at the Bridge of Walls but is having to spend money on feeding them.

Mr Miller said the association would be approaching commercial hatcheries, of which there are several in Shetland, for a new home for its broodstock.

He said the fish were due for stripping next week. The eggs could be fertilised and released in the wild where they had a slim chance of survival, but this would require official approval.

Mr Miller said that wild trout could still move up the burn now that the sluices had been removed from the dam, and that access for wild fish was actually “technically better” than it had been, but that the arts trust property would surely be worth less following the “damage” done to the hatchery and its surroundings.

The angling association rented the north end of the hatchery build­ing and it is understood the rest is used by Shetland Arts for storage.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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5 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    Mareel!! Shetland Arts, I for one am not at all surprised. Utter vandalism to try and save this pathetic Arts Centre!! and waste of public funds. The pretentious arties will stop nothing to save their cash drain. Forget angling let’s all go and see a film, that is until the Mareel plug is finally pulled. How much more will Shetland loose trying to save this disastrous White Elephant? If funds are needed so much let’s get rid of the well paid idiots whom so messed up this Mareel project from the start.

    Reply
  2. Bill Smale

    This story reads more like what landlords in the Weisdale valley were upto in the 19th Century, not what publicly funded bodies should be doing in the 21st Century. If Shetland Arts needs to save money to pay for previous blunders, it should certainly be looking at staffing costs – it has already been suggested that the Director be put on a ‘zero hours’ contract. It is interesting to note that this “innovative and entrepreneurial creative organisation” can only offer £7.15 per hour for a cleaner to work “as and when required” (= zero hours!). OK, it’s more than the National Minimum Wage but way short of the £7.65 National Living Wage and that’s without any island allowance.
    If money could be saved by amalgamating Shetland’s colleges, is it time to start looking at putting the Museum and Mareel under the same management? Both have cafes, both operate as cinemas, both promote festivals – and they’re not very far apart.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Some good points, there, Bill, notably, the 19th century landlords.

      I’m rarely overly-enamoured of the idea that ‘bigger is better” and as with the amalgamation of the colleges any amalgamation of Mareel and the museum managements should be approached cautiously.

      When you start putting two distinct creative entities under the same management you lose the distinctiveness of approach and the staff immediately feel more like a “just a number”. To use an extreme, silly, illustration we might suggest amalgamating the London Symphony Orchestra with “X-factor”. There might be some apparent benefits but could we depend on Simon Cowal to preserve what’s best about the LSO?

      That said, I would assume that non-creative functions like pay and accounts are already a central function at Shetland Arts?

      Who knows, we may yet be queueing for tickets to see a stunning gig with Brian and the Archivists at Mareel?

      Reply
  3. Ian Tinkler

    I cannot help but feel a little less empire building by Shetland Arts might have allowed the arts centre to share functions and facilities with the Museum . Shared facilities such as café and bar would have seemed sensible. The Arts centre being in closer proximity to the Museum and connected by a glass covered walkway, perhaps an area for a covered market. What a wasted opportunity. How typical of the arties to push themselves towards bankruptcy with their plastic gin palace/ new offices. As for vandalising Kergord hatcher, printable words fail me.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Doubtless, Ian, another part of the SIC’s tight new ship will be able to help the anglers out with funding from another department to build a new hatchery at Brouster or wherever to undo the damage to the sea trout population wreaked by the destruction of the hatchery at Weisdale by Shetland Arts.

      A peculiarly un-Shetland “piece ‘o wark”!

      Reply

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