Shetland Islands Council is to spend a six-figure sum on the creation of an ISA recovery scheme with the expectation of attracting more than £1 million in external funding.
The £100,000 support, agreed at a special development committee meeting on Monday, is to introduce a grant scheme for the industry to “stimulate research and development in Shetland’s salmon farming sector” as part of the Scottish government’s recovery support scheme.
The council has set aside European Fisheries Fund (EFF) money for the purpose of getting the industry back on its feet after being hit in January with the second outbreak of ISA (infectious salmon anaemia) in the past 10 years.
Along with £1 million of EFF money, the Scottish government is likely to contribute a further £150,000 and Shetland Aquaculture has identified a number of eligible projects to create or safeguard jobs and improve the health and welfare of the species being farmed.
It has been estimated that the culling of fish and the inability to put a full year’s stock of smolts to sea until next year could wipe around £20m from the industry’s value and mean 15 per cent less salmon being grown in Shetland waters this year.
Chief executive of Shetland Aquaculture David Sandison said: “I am very pleased with the outcome of the discussions in recent weeks, leading to the backing from Shetland Islands Council for a Shetland scheme to maximise the potential funds earmarked within the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), for supporting companies directly affected by the ISA control measures.
“It is hoped this will also enhance the level of Scottish government financial input to the scheme, over and above the existing EFF commitments. I will continue to work closely with the SIC and the companies concerned to ensure good Common Interest projects are presented for consideration within this scheme.”