Grieg Seafood might soon find it has another place to farm and land salmon in the Shetland Islands, after the Islands’ councillors approved a Sullom Voe Harbour Area Masterplan that promises more talks with salmon farmers to ease a local ban on aquaculture in the seafront area.
Acting executive manager of the Shetland Islands Council’s ports and harbours unit, John Smith, wrote that salmon farmers have had an eye on the piers and harbours at Collafirth, Toft and Ulsta as well as some pristine areas nearby. Grieg has a nearby grow-out at Mossbank.
“Aquaculture is currently not permitted anywhere in the SVHA by policy,” Smith said, adding, “There is continued commercial interest from the aquaculture sector in possible future devleopment in the SVHA should arrangements change.”
An environment and transport committee will now also look at a related Shetland Marine Spatial Plan, and its members had earlier said that only parts of the harbour could be brought into use for aquaculture. A GBP 39,000 grant to develop the Spatial plan and GBP 189,000 to match aquaculture research funds are also approved by council
The Islands’ Council was keen to fund salmon-farming, which it said now contributed to a GBP 350 million local fishery. Though its production in the Islands has been lower of late, Grieg Seafoods management have called Shetland farming “unique”, with the archipelago’s production mainly sold in the UK through Grieg sales operation, Ocean Quality UK.
Grieg Seafood Shetland is the largest salmon farmer in Shetland. Its hatcheries, grow-out and processing in the rugged territory employs 160, and it has production capacity for around 22,000 tonnes of gutted weight salmon.