Environmental and animal welfare agencies are carrying out an investigation into the deaths of thousands of fully-grown salmon at a fish farm on the West Side earlier this month.
Acting in conjunction with the police, SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage and government agency Marine Scotland, the Scottish SPCA searched Hoganess Salmon on Saturday and are now carrying out an investigation into alleged fish poisoning.
Hoganess Salmon operates two sites in Vaila Sound and three in Gruting Voe and has a potential production capacity of up to 7,000 tonnes. It operates from a base at Burrastow, near Walls.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “I can confirm that the Scottish SPCA is leading an investigation into alleged fish poisoning in the Shetland Islands, working with SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland and the police. The investigation is currently ongoing therefore no further information is available at this stage.”
Hoganess Salmon is part of the Lakeland Group, owned by Norwegian firm Marine Farms ASA. Lakeland managing director Willie Liston said the problem arose earlier this month when it was carrying out a sea lice treatment at one of the 16 cages it owns in the area.
Mr Liston said that somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 grown salmon, weighing around 3.5kg each, had died and Lakeland was continuing its own internal investigation, as well as co-operating with SEPA and the SSPCA.
Welfare agencies became involved late last week after the company began transporting dead fish to the Rova Head dump in Lerwick, with SEPA and the SSPCA sending inspectors to visit the farm on Saturday.
Mr Liston said he did not know when the investigation would be completed but it would be sometime within the next 10 days. He admitted there had been a “higher level of mortality than we would have expected” in the cage for a sea lice treatment.