By LOUISE THOMASON
At a meeting to discuss the future of Shetland’s aquaculture industry, environment minister Mike Russell this week announced that two grants totalling £1,158,000 have been allocated to two companies.
Lerwick Fish Traders and Rossyew Ltd are to receive the grants from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) to develop fish processing projects. It is expected the money will create 17 new jobs in the isles.
Speaking after the meeting with representatives from Shetland’s aquaculture industry, including SIC convener Sandy Cluness, Mr Russell said: “The grants are an important factor, I’m delighted we’ve been able to bring forward some of the EFF funding.
“These two grants will add value to the processing chain within Shetland and they’ll create new jobs, which is very important in these strained times. The industry has a good future in Scotland and in Shetland, I’m sure of that.”
The recent ISA outbreak was a sobering backdrop to the talks, which focused on the future of the aquaculture in industry in Shetland.
Mr Russell said: “We’ve been talking specifically here this afternoon about the forward look for the industry and what the constraining factors are; what the potential for the industry is for the next 10 years and how we can meet that.
“There are some constraining factors [but] as the minister responsible for aquaculture what I’m trying to do is to make sure we have an industry agreement as we go forward.
“We’ve been consulting on a new strategic framework and that will be issued later this year. What I want the industry to focus on and local authorities particularly, is how they take things forward and how they grow, because both shellfish and salmon farming for example are nowhere near capacity and we could do more, but we’ve got to do it environmentally sensitively.
“We’ve got to make sure our practices are very good. The recent ISA outbreak here should be a sort of wake up call for us.”
Rossyew Ltd is a fish processing company that produces fish oils for feed and pet food purposes from salmon by-products.
Sales director Ian Wright said the company was “absolutely delighted” to have received the grant.
Based in Greenock, the company will receive a grant of £738,000. It is currently in negotiations over the site of the Lerwick factory, but hopes to be operational in Shetland by the end of this year, creating posts for six full time and one part time staff.
Currently LFT employs 99 people, 93 full time and six part time. Around 10 new jobs will be created with £420,000 of grant money, which will be used towards purchasing new a Baader automated processing line.
Lerwick Fish Traders are operated by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland, the largest private sector employer in Shetland, supporting between 140 and 170 jobs.
Managing director Michael Stark said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this money which will make a significant contribution to the efficiency of our processing operation.
“It will also mean that we will be able to offer a more flexible, consumer tailored service to our customers, strengthening Hjaltland’s position as the leading producer of high quality sustainable salmon from Shetland.”