NORWEGIAN seafood producer Pelagia has bought out local interests in the struggling Bressay fishmeal factory to further consolidate its position in Shetland.
Shetland Fish Products Limited is now wholly owned by Pelagia Shetland Limited after Lerwick Port Authority, Seafood Shetland and Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, who took on full ownership about six years, all agreed to sell their shares.
Pelagia Shetland also owns half of the Shetland Catch pelagic factory and through that it already had a 36 per cent share in the fishmeal and oil factory at Heogan in Bressay.
Speaking to Shetland News, Pelagia chief executive Egil Magne Haugstad said the company had been struggling for some time due to relatively low production volumes at Shetland Catch.
The fishmeal factory primarily processes mackerel and herring trimmings and offal from Shetland Catch and turns it into fishmeal and oil.The company also processes some salmon offal.
Haugstad said: “At Pelagia we are interested in the whole fish which means we will always seek to develop value from the whole resource.”
He said the low volumes were seen as a potential risk for the company’s whole Shetland operation, which in turn triggered the decision to take full ownership of Shetland Fish Products.
Haugstad said the company was keen to explore ways of how to develop the factory further.
“Long term there are reasons to be optimistic for Shetland as a fish processing site, not just for pelagic, but there are also significant volumes of whitefish being landed,” he said.
“Unfortunately trimmings from whitefish are currently being thrown overboard and back into the sea, but we hope that in future that resource will also be landed.
“Working together I think this could add value to fishermen who are landing in Shetland.”
The three outgoing local owners said they were pleased that the future of Heogan had been secured by the company becoming part of a fully integrated group. Staff at the Heogan factory will not be affected by the change in ownership, Haugstad confirmed.