The council is to provide more than £300,000 to Shetland’s biggest salmon company to help it refurbish and upgrade its hatchery at Girlsta.
Hjaltland Hatcheries Ltd, a subsidiary of Hjaltland Seafarms Ltd, will receive the money towards a £3.7 million redevelopment at the site, which it is hoped will result in the first production of smolts by 2013.
The development committee has approved the grant of £314,735 to allow the company to secure further funding from the European Fisheries Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It is part of a larger plan by Hjaltland to create a vertically integrated business in the isles, meaning it does everything from hatching fish to turning out value-added products such as its successful WildWaters smoked salmon range.
Hjaltland said that when fully operational the hatchery will produce around three million smolts a year, meeting around 50 per cent of its demand, and result in improved traceability, better quality control and stability of supply.
Managing director of Hjaltland Seafarms Ltd, Michael Stark, said: “We very much appreciate Shetland Islands Council’s support for this project.
“Introducing the hatchery to our existing business is an important development, strengthening our operation, creating seven new and securing the existing 185 to 198 jobs.
“This provides the final link in the chain for the complete vertical integration of our business from inception to finished product on supermarket shelves.
“The introduction of the hatchery helps us control supply and maintain the quality of our product and, of course, grow customer confidence. We are proud to be in a position to retail our own-brand Shetland salmon and believe that the customer response and many accolades that the WildWaters range has already received demonstrates that it is a brand that is creating real impact – not only for the company but for Shetland as a whole.”
Josie Simpson, chairman of the development committee, said: “The project will allow the Hjaltland Group to grow its Shetland based company which will positively impact on the Shetland economy. In addition this grant will lever in significant funds from other sources to enable the project to go ahead.”
• North Atlantic Shellfish is set to expand its mussel farming business, creating seven new jobs with the help of a loan of almost £600,000 from the SIC.
The council’s development committee has approved the money to allow the firm to introduce the latest mussel production technology and harvesting systems following an upgrade of its processing factory at Walls.
Managing director Richard Tait welcomed the council’s support, saying it would allow the family-owned business to achieve its development plans and enhance its competitiveness.
“Our mussels are very well received and this investment enables us to service the strong demand we are seeing for our Shetland mussels. Our operation is based in Walls on the West Side where we have built an excellent team who are dedicated to producing quality mussels. This loan from the Shetland Islands Council is greatly appreciated and will help us to reach our full potential.”
Development committee chairman Josie Simpson said: “This project is in line with our priority to produce top quality seafood products with the ‘Shetland’ brand and to encourage sustainable growth in Shetland’s aquaculture industry. The business is strenghtening the community of Walls through the creation of seven new jobs, which is additional to the 17 jobs that it already provides.”