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Marine / Salmon farm company plans ‘significant’ investment in Girlsta hatchery

The hatchery at Girlsta, owned by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland.
The hatchery at Girlsta.

THE NEW operator of the Girlsta salmon hatchery says it intends to “invest significantly” in the facility.

The hatchery changed hands recently when Scottish Sea Farms bought out Grieg Seafood in a £164 million deal.

The buy-out included other assets such as salmon farms and a processing plant.

Managing director Jim Gallagher said management had been busy meeting staff in Shetland and seeing operations at play following the takeover.

One key area of development planned is the Girlsta hatchery, which produces juvenile salmon in freshwater.

“We have been able to reassure the Shetland freshwater team that we plan to invest significantly in this area – from smolt quality and water quality to overall output – with a ‘deep dive’ scoping exercise well underway,” Gallagher said in a Scottish Sea Farms newsletter.

“It’s just one of the benefits of having owners who are knowledgeable in the sector and long-term oriented.”

As part of the plans Scottish Sea Farms is now recruiting an operations manager for the hatchery.

The facility, which was opened in 2015, cost around £15 million.

Gallagher also said that on the processing side of things there could be a shortage of staff in the future based on current and forecast volumes.

More generally he is confident Scottish Sea Farms will see a decent return on its investment.

“The price agreed for Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK speaks volumes about our belief in the scale of the opportunity, and following the conversations so far, I see more opportunity ahead than ever,” Gallagher said.

“There’s a lot of hard work to be done, a lot of teamwork and commitment required, but I’m confident we’ll deliver strong profitability on our investment.”

Gallagher also suggested that there will be updates in the coming weeks on a new “blended organisational structure” within the company.