Scottish Sea Farms to invest £2m in Shetland upgrade

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Boost will improve its Shetland farm infrastructure, including the upgrade of five feed barges.

In a press release, Scottish Sea Farms writes that it is investing nearly GBP 2 million to upgrade and improve its Shetland farming infrastructure.

Investment
The programme of works will be carried out primarily by Scottish and local suppliers, and will include:

  • Five feed barges being upgraded at Buckie-based Macduff Shipyards, at a total cost of GBP 0.7 million.
  • The workboat “Scapa Lass” undergoing a GBP 0.4 million refit, also at Macduff, ahead of its repurposing as a treatment support vessel.
  • New pens and moorings worth GBP 0.6 million being installed at the company’s Bellister farm to bring it into line with recent refurbishments across the rest of the Shetland estate.
  • Associated electrical and engineering support from Agmatek, Ocean Kinetics and the Shetland branch of ScaleAQ.

The investment follows a management restructuring in Shetland last year that saw Richard Darbyshire appointed Northern Isles Regional Manager with responsibility for both Shetland and Orkney.

New Northern Isles Regional Manager Richard Darbyshire (R)with MD Jim Gallagher (L). PHOTO: SSF

Costs
Darbyshire, who alternates his working weeks between Shetland and Orkney, said there was now a more local focus that had already brought dividends.

“Decisions are being made quicker, so we get resources when they are needed. As a result, sea lice numbers at the end of week 50 were half the levels of the corresponding week in 2019. And the fish were significantly bigger than the previous generation at the same stage two years ago,” said Darbyshire.

“This is to everyone’s immense credit, given that the year was difficult due to Covid-19 restrictions. But we can’t be complacent and have ambitious targets to reach on fish survival, fish size and costs in 2021,” he added.

Barge upgrades involve blasting and repainting, as well as the fitting of cameras in the feed hoppers to assist remote feeding.

“Ronas Voe” mid-refurb at Buckie-based Macduff Shipyards. PHOTO: SSF

Key priorities
The barges will come ashore throughout the year during fallow periods, with work on the “Ronas Voe” very recently completed.

In addition to the GBP 2 million programme of works, all of the company’s Shetland’s marine pens now have SealPro anti-predator netting fitted along with sinker tubes to ensure nets are robustly tensioned, helping safeguard fish stocks from growing seal populations.

The 2021 aim for Shetland is the same, as for all Scottish Sea Farms’ locations, is 95 per-cent fish survival, and an average harvest weight of 5.5 kilos.

“One of our key priorities was to improve teamwork between the farms, with everyone helping each other and pulling together, and that seems to be going really well,” said Darbyshire.

“With the bigger smolts we’re getting from our mainland hatchery at Barcaldine, plus the investment in new infrastructure, and the training and development packages we have in place, I’d like to think that the future will be even better,” he concluded.