Fish farmers hit by salmon disease to benefit from new European funding

Salmon farms off the west of Shetland were hit by the ISA outbreak. Click on image to enlarge.
Salmon farms off the west of Shetland were hit by the ISA outbreak. Click on image to enlarge.

Fish farmers in Shetland who were affected by the outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) in the past year are among those to benefit from the latest round of European fisheries grants worth more than £9 million.

There have been six cases of ISA since January, most recently at a site owned by Skelda Salmon Farms Ltd. That company is to receive a grant of £346,248 towards a £466,000 project to trial mooring grids to test strains in different environmental conditions.

Hjaltland Seafarms Ltd, three of whose fish farms were hit by ISA, will get £615,218 to put towards equipment for a new site, upgrading of existing equipment, protecting against seal predation and pilot projects to improve the accuracy of determining biomass data within cages and evaluate feed formulations. The company is investing a total of over £1.2 million.

Lakeland Unst Freshwater, which is based at Haroldswick in Unst, is to receive £7,350 towards a £30,000 project to renew oxygen injection and supply at its hatchery; the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway will collect £84,000 towards a pilot project to evaluate and monitor sea lice resistance to chemical treatments; and umbrella organisation Shetland

Aquaculture will get almost £130,000 towards developing a sustainable area/farm management structure in the fin fish sector and developing and delivering a course on fish welfare.

In all, Shetland businesses and organisations will receive just over £2 million of the £9.3 million awarded by the European Fisheries Fund.

Shetland fishing boats Guardian Angell, Quiet Waters, Renown, Valhalla and Venturous will receive more than £60,000 between them for various improvements.

In the shellfish sector, Demlane Ltd has been awarded £220,910 in development costs while Olnafirth Seafarm Ltd. will get more than £15,000 for improvements to existing mussel farms. Langsound Shellfish will get £20,000 towards a new shore station and Lakeland Unst Freshwater will get £30,000 for improvement works.

Whalsay Fish Processors Ltd., which was recently kept afloat by a council loan and placed under new management, will receive £137,000 for a new freezer and defroster.

Finally, Shetland Seafood Auctions is to get £27,000 towards its electronic auction system; Lerwick Harbour is to collect more than £50,000 for power outlets at Morrison Dock; and R H Henderson Ltd. is to get £31,000 for enhancement work on its ice plant.

Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “The aquaculture industry is the lifeblood of many rural and coastal communities and widely regarded as the only way of meeting the growing global demand for seafood.

“Our new ministerial group on aquaculture is reviewing the containment and treatment of ISA. We are backing this up with substantial investment to help those firms affected by the outbreak get back on their feet. I am also pleased that Scotland’s growing shellfish sector stands to benefit from this latest round of funding.”

Fisheries minister Richard Lochhead said he hoped the grants would help the fishing industry get over what he said had been a “difficult year” and create positive opportunities for the future.

Mr Lochhead said: “Fishing is a key industry for Scotland supporting many coastal and rural communities. Taken together, fisheries, fish farming and processing generate over £1 billion each year for the Scottish economy.

“There is no question that 2009 has been a difficult year for some fleets, and 2010 will also be challenging. This funding provides further evidence that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our fishing industry and processors and are determined to maximise the value of the catch and help them to achieve greater profitability.

“The substantial funding to improve training and encourage more young skippers into the industry is particularly encouraging.”


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