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Harvests and sales down for Grieg

Salmon farming is a major industry in rural Shetland. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND continues to be a difficult fish growing area for Norwegian company Grieg Seafood as sales of farmed salmon in the fourth quarter of 2017 were down by around £5 million on the previous year.

The company harvested a total of 3,141 tonnes of salmon in the isles during the period to bring in around £17 million – a drop of around 750 tonnes.

Problems with sea lice and algae remained a headache for the isles’ largest salmon producer, while the falling salmon price also had an impact on results.

But the harvest for the rest of 2018 is expected to show a three per cent rise on the previous year.

“Costs in Shetland remain high, mainly because of issues with lice and algae. Nevertheless, the cost level continued to decline during Q4, against the previous quarter,” the company said.

“The cost per kg is, however, expected to increase because of low harvested volumes.

“Sea production was relatively stable over the quarter. The company collaborates closely with other aquaculture companies in the region to solve any issues.

“Longer fallowing periods and other initiatives to suppress the number of lice, will be prioritised going forward.”

Grieg Seafood Shetland’s managing director Grant Cumming told Shetland News last year that cutting back on production levels was one of the ways it was hoping to reduce lice numbers.

Figures showed that the company, which operates a number of sites across Shetland, was one of the worst performers in Scotland when it came to lice.

Meanwhile, Grieg has confirmed that around 21,700 fish escaped from a damaged cage at Loch Snizort near the Isle of Skye earlier this month.

“We are conducting an in-depth investigation to discover the root cause of the breach in the net to ensure it does not reoccur,” Cumming told BBC Scotland.