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Business / Grieg’s fish suffer in the sun

The salmon company reported a loss in the third quarter of 2018.

Grieg Seafood Hjaltland's new managing director Grant Cumming. Photo: Shetland News/Hans J. Marter.
Grieg Seafood Shetland managing director Grant Cumming. Photo: Shetland News

INCREASED numbers of jellyfish in Shetland has contributed to Grieg Seafood reporting a loss in the third quarter of 2018 as more fish succumbed to gill related diseases.

Shetland managing director Grant Cumming said the increase in jellyfish – which as a knock-on effect raised mortality rates in the company’s salmon farms and made some fish smaller than expected – was due to warmer weather.

While the Norwegian company harvested 120 tonnes more in the Shetland region in the third quarter than in the same period in 2017, it made a loss of NOK 1.21 per kilo before interest and tax compared to earnings of NOK 6.03/kg last year.

The harvest volume for Grieg Seafood Shetland in the third quarter of 2018 was 4,511 tonnes.

The Shetland arm of the seafood company operates in salmon farms across Shetland as well as the Isle of Skye.

Cumming explained that performance is stabilising again after the third quarter.

“We’ve had a lot of jellyfish this late summer, which has done some damage to the gills on a few of our fish, so that’s hit us in two ways,” he said.

“It’s raised the mortality rates on some of the sites, and reduced appetite on some of the other sites, which has made fish smaller now than they would have meant to be.

“It’s been a fairly tough end to the summer. It was so hot and so sunny – good weather for people is not necessarily good for fish, but things seem to be stabilising now with the return to normal Shetland weather.”

In contrast, Grieg’s Norwegian operations performed well in the third quarter of 2018, with “good” biological performance in Finnmark and Rogaland in addition to declining costs.

Harmful algal bloom, however, affected Greig’s British Columbia division.