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Marine / End of an era as salmon producers’ organisation closes Lerwick office

THE SCOTTISH Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) is set to close its office in Lerwick, leading to the loss of two full-time equivalent jobs.

The organisation says it is moving all of its operations to its headquarters in Edinburgh, with the Shetland office in the Stewart Building due to shut at the end of January.

SSPO Shetland’s Davie Sandison.

General manager Davie Sandison is set to be made redundant alongside two other part-time staff members, including Anne-Lise Anderson who has been working for the local salmon farming industry for 30 years.

The move by the SSPO represents the end of an era for Shetland as a distinct Scottish salmon growing area.

Sandison has been representing the local industry for more than 20 years after being appointed as the manager of the then Shetland Salmon Farmers’ Association (SSFA) in the late 1990s.

Under his guidance the organisation was renamed Shetland Aquaculture to reflect the move to other species, namely cod and sea trout, being farmed in local waters.

In 2014 Shetland Aquaculture became part of the SSPO and Sandison was made the Shetland manager for the national organisation.

SSPO chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said the move would “streamline the organisation and make it more lean, efficient and flexible”

It comes at a time when the main salmon producers are large, and often multi-national companies, based in and around the central belt, instead there being a network of smaller operators dotted around the country.

“No decisions like this are taken lightly and this was a very difficult one to take,” Hesketh-Laird said.

“The salmon sector has changed a lot over the last 20-30 years: we have to change to adapt, too.

“There has been a lot of consolidation in the sector and we no longer represent a large number of smaller operators in many locations. We represent seven companies, most of whom are based in or around the central belt.

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“Modern communication means we can liaise with all our member companies more swiftly and surely from Edinburgh than we ever could do before, even with offices in different parts of the country.

“The SSPO works extremely closely with its member companies. One of our member companies is headquartered in Shetland, two others have a significant presence there. We are confident those companies will give us a strong and powerful voice in Shetland as we go forward.”

Sandison has been a councillor representing the people of the Shetland Central ward since December 2011.

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