Local company Grieg Seafood Hjaltland Ltd is to benefit from backing from Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the form of a package worth over £300,000.
The cash boost will allow subsidiary company Hjaltland Hatcheries Ltd (HHL) to develop a state of the art Atlantic salmon smolt hatchery facility at Girlsta, creating seven jobs.
The site is being refurbished and extensively upgraded with the first production of smolts expected in 2013. The project will result in improved traceability, quality control and stability in smolt supply to meet increasing customer requirements.
The upgrade will see the hatchery producing around three million smolts each year by 2015, which will help meet half of Hjaltland Seafarms’ demand and allow Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Ltd to create a sustainable and secure future for its farms, processing, sales and marketing operations.
The European Fisheries Fund is also providing grant support towards the £3.7 million project, as is Shetland Islands Council which in October announced it would award a grant of £314,735 to the company.
Since 2004, the Hjaltland group has invested £27 million in developing its Shetland based factory and farms which employ around 190 people.
The company has a host of accolades under its belt, most recently winning awards such as the new business award, sponsored by J & D Cowper and JBT Transport, for its WildWaters range of smoked salmon, gravadlax and fresh salmon products, presented by top Scottish chef Nick Nairn at a ceremony and dinner in Inverness in October.
In May the company won Best Fish and Seafood Product at the 2010 Scot¬land Food & Drink Excellence Awards, held at the Benromach Distillery in Forres.
Managing director of Grieg Seafood Hjaltland, Michael Stark, said: “We very much appreciate HIE’s support towards this project. Introducing the hatchery to our existing business is an important development, strengthening our operation, creating new jobs and securing the existing jobs for the future.
“This approval of funding provides the final link in the chain to complete our business from inception to finished product on retail shelves. The introduction of the hatchery helps us control supply of smolt 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 customer response and accolades won by the Wild Waters range demonstrate it’s creating a real impact, not only for the company but for Shetland as a whole.”
Stuart Robertson, HIE’s area manager in Shetland, said: “The Hjaltland Group makes an invaluable contribution to employment in Shetland and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the company to grow their UK and international business.”