One of Shetland’s last remaining locally owned salmon farms has been sold to a Norwegian multinational.
Lakeland Unst Ltd, a subsidiary of Meridian Salmon Group, has paid £3 million for Uyeasound Salmon Company’s assets on the island of Unst.
The fish farm was set up in 1986 with just two cages growing 7,000 smolts, but has since grown into one of Shetland’s most successful independent salmon businesses growing 275,000 fish in 22 cages at five sites.
The fish farm has consent to grow 2,300 tonnes of salmon and sells and 1,000 tonnes of salmon every year.
Lakeland Unst Ltd already operates a salmon farm in Unst, which is the company’s most successful operation in Shetland due to the lack of sea lice that cause such a problem elsewhere in the islands.
The company had a setback at Christmas when 12 cages were washed out into the North Sea by 100mph hurricane winds, with the loss of fish worth about £3 million. Most of the cages were recovered after three weeks, though four were lost at sea.
Global head of finance with Meridian Salmon Group’s parent company Morpol, Pål Angell-Hansen, said: “We are very pleased to have finally managed to secure this operation. Unst on Shetland is a very attractive area to operate in, with good staff and very little sea lice. The combined business should improve our performance going forward.”
Morpol is the world’s largest producer of smoked salmon and only moved into Scottish salmon farming in 2010, buying up Mainstream and Lakeland who had sites off Shetland’s west coast and elsewhere in Scotland.
Its subsidiary Meridian is the third largest salmon growing business in Shetland after Grieg Seafood Hjaltland and Scottish Sea Farms. These three companies now control all but three salmon farms in Shetland.
Ian Thomason, one of three partners in Uyeasound Salmon Company, said they had decided to retire after working “24/7” for the past 25 years.
The company employs eight staff, two of whom will transfer to the new owners. “We decided to sell to take life a bit easier,” he said, adding that he wanted to be able to spend time with his grandchildren.
The only remaining independent Shetland salmon farms are Balta Island Seafare in Unst, Bound Skerries in Out Skerries and Thompson Brothers in Yell.
Last year Skelda Salmon sold its operation to Grieg Seafood Hjaltland for £2.2 million.
Meridian Salmon Group are currently carrying out an investigation into alleged unlawful killing of seals at their site near Burrastow. Two managers are currently under suspension pending a court case on 21 March.
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