Grieg Seafood has paid off 25 staff following poor results in the last quarter of 2015.
The firm, which is in the midst of a “strategic review” of Shetland operations, remains the largest salmon producer in the isles employing about 170 people.
Last quarter’s harvest fell 37 per cent to 3,974 tonnes from 6,342 tonnes in the final quarter of 2014. Sales revenue fell by 36 per cent in the same comparative spell.
Grieg has blamed a “high level of mortality” on algae and sea lice which “again” resulted in weak production and “very high costs” in Shetland.
According to Grieg Seafood’s report on the last three months of 2015, manpower levels at sea are being reduced and the level of staff at Lerwick Fish Trader’s is also being reduced.
Greig is also reducing its production cycle from 24 to 18 months, which is intended to “make more effective use of the good locations more effectively, while weaker areas will be laid temporarily fallow”.
Producing larger and healthier smolts at its Girlsta hatchery is one reason GSF will be able to speed up its production cycle.
GSF recently revealed plans to grow lumpfish in Shetland as a means of combating sea lice and is increasing the use of this “natural” method of keeping down on the pests. Monitoring of algae will also be a focus area, the report says.
Despite the Shetland setbacks, GSF expects a good future for its global operations. “With expectations of limited supply-side growth, a strong market is likely in the period ahead. This also applies to the US market,” says the report.
“GSF continues to expect a harvested volume of 70,000 tons in 2016. The forecast for Finnmark has been increased by 1,000 tons, while in Shetland it has been reduced by a corresponding amount. Norway is expected to account for 61 per cent of the harvested volume in 2016, against 53 per cent in 2015.”