The Shetland Catch pelagic factory is now 50 per cent owned by Norwegians after Norway Pelagic ASA increased its share for £3 million.
For five years Norway Pelagic has held a 25 per cent share with the option of doubling it.
The company’s other owners are Lerwick Port Authority and the local fishermen themselves through the Shetland Fish Producers Organisation.
Shetland Catch chairman John Goodlad said: “We are delighted that Norway Pelagic has chosen to make such a substantial investment in Shetland Catch. This investment reflects a wider confidence in the pelagic industry at the moment. It also recognises the huge potential which Shetland Catch has to develop its business.’’
Shetland Catch managing director Simon Leiper, said: “This is very good news for Shetland Catch. While we will continue to operate independently we very much look forward to working with our partners in Norway and planning for the future with confidence.”
Norway Pelagic bought its initial 25 per cent shareholding in 2007 for £1.53 million. The company’s chief executive officer Tor Vikenes said: “We have increased our stake in Shetland Catch because of its excellent strategic location, especially in relation to the attractive mackerel and North Sea herring fisheries. Shetland Catch has an experienced management team and we look forward to working with our partners in Shetland.”
The factory is one of the biggest in Europe and can process up to 1,000 tonnes of fish a day.
Industry observers expected Norway Pelagic might increase its stake once the long-running criminal court case about blackfish landings was out of the way.
Shetland Catch was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay back £1.5 million in illegal profits in July this year for using secret measuring systems to enable fishermen to land over-quota herring and mackerel.