The Whalsay fish factory is to reopen in July as a salmon gutting and packing plant with the creation of 22 full time jobs.
Norpak Island Limited, a company founded by aquaculture pioneers Angus and Ivor Johnson, from Vidlin, will process salmon harvested from cages belonging to the Meridian Salmon Group, in Yell and Unst.
The plant in Whalsay will process up to 50 tonnes of fish a day and will operate in addition to Meridian’s own packing plant in Mid Yell, which is at capacity.
The fish factory at Symbister closed in autumn last year after owner Frank Johnson was unable to source enough salmon at an affordable price.
Shetland Development Trust, as a major investor in the factory, lost several hundred thousands of pounds of public money in the demise.
Norpak said on Thursday they were confident that they would not have similar problems due to their long term contracts with Meridian.
Angus and Ivor Johnson also provide the fish harvesting service to the company. The new operation in Whalsay is seen as an extension to that service.
Farmed salmon is being harvested into wellboats, which will deliver the fish straight to the factory at Symbister harbour.
Norpak managing director David Leask said: “This will create sustainable employment in Whalsay and islanders are keen to see this happening.
“It is a service we provide to the industry. We have a long term contract with the Meridian Group and that is why we are keen to push forward with this.”
Norpak leases the factory from Shetland Leasing and Property Developments (SLAP).
At present there is no public money involved, although Mr Leask said that for future developments the company might consider applying for European funding.
A spokesman for the Meridian Salmon Group said: “We are fully supportive of the Whalsay project with a view that it will create additional employment in the rural areas of Shetland and will be operated in addition to our main processing plant based in Yell.”
Whalsay councillor Josie Simpson said he was delighted to get the factory going again, adding that he was hopeful that the number of people employed could grow even further in the future.
He continued saying that the “excellent news for Whalsay” would add further strain on the already overstretched ferry network, which might result in difficulties for Norpak to ship their product out of the island.
The salmon farming industry is currently going through a buoyant phase with high prices and increasing tonnage from farms in Shetland and Scotland.