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Also in the news / Aquaculture technology, whale success, Catfirth marina plans and more…

Gregg Arthur of UHI Shetland with the FCTB device. Photo: Ben Mullay

SHELLFISH and finfish businesses in Shetland are set to benefit from new technology designed to inform optimal and sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector.

UHI Shetland has secured £185,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to purchase a high-tech piece of equipment known as an Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB).

The IFCB can scan water samples for phytoplankton (micro-algae) using flow cytometry, lasers and cameras. It then beams this data to the cloud for specialist analysis allowing phytoplankton detection and monitoring.

Phytoplankton are crucial to the success of mussel farms, but some phytoplankton species produce toxins or can even be harmful to fish when they bloom in large numbers.

Gregg Arthur, aquaculture manager at Shetland-UHI said: “This autonomous device is a game changer and this second IFCB to come to the UK complements a project already running in the Isles with Seafood Shetland, which includes the first IFCB and is supported by the SIC’s Coastal Communities.   We’re excited to see the instrument’s capabilities.

“The IFCB gives us a much higher resolution picture of phytoplankton abundance at any given time and is a specialist tool for monitoring numbers and species as these change throughout the seasons.”

A photo of the operation on Wednesday morning. Photo: Harold Massie

THE TEAM effort to encourage the Whiteness Voe sperm whale back out the sea has been a success.

On Wednesday the whale – which had been in the voe for more than a week and was in danger of stranding – was shepherded out to sea by a number of local boats.

Shetland Wildlife’s Hugh Harrop paid tribute to those who helped, including Scottish Sea Farms crew, and those who observed the whale from over the last week – sometimes around the clock.

PLANS have now been submitted to the council for a new small boat marina at Catfirth.

The South Nesting Boating Club is behind the idea.

The proposed marina would accommodate around 50 berths.

If plans come to fruition it could be located adjacent to the disused WW1 flying boat station site on the area of shore at the mouth of the Mill Burn.

THE COUNCIL is inviting anyone that wants to contribute to tackling climate change to attend an online ‘Shetland climate conversation workshop’ next week.

The workshop invites participants to come together to find ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to adapt our infrastructure to tackle the impacts of climate change.

Information gained from the workshops will be fed into the Shetland Net Zero Route Map and the development of a Climate Change Strategy for Shetland.

The Shetland climate conversation workshop will take place online via Zoom on Thursday 7 April, starting at 7pm. Registrations are now open through this Zoom link.

THE DOWRY will play host to an intimate throwback to the Britpop nineties this weekend as Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Carpets come to town.

Local promoter Alan McLeod of Mac Events said he was looking forward to working with manager Stuart Fox and his team at The Dowry for the first time.

The gig was originally scheduled to take place in December before Covid-19 restrictions were introduced after the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The Scottish-based tribute act performs a selection of songs drawn both from Gallagher Senior’s solo career and lots of classic material from his band Oasis.

All of the tickets were sold out but McLeod said they had a few returns after the event was rescheduled to this Saturday (2 April) and they are available online.

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have condemned the decision by the UK Government’s oil and gas regulator to grant a two-year extension to the licence to develop the controversial Cambo oil field.

This decision does not mean that the Cambo field has been given the go ahead for drilling, and campaigners have claimed the extension “merely delays the inevitable rejection of the field and the transition away from fossil fuels”.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate and energy campaigner Caroline Rance said: “The UK Government is trying to keep this doomed oil field on life support but they are simply dragging out the inevitable rejection of Cambo and the transition away from fossil fuels.

“There is no safe future for new oil and gas production in the North Sea, Cambo and all new field developments must be rejected.”

THERE was no ferry to/from Papa Stour on Wednesday as the Snolda underwent essential maintenance in Scalloway.

Earlier today (Thursday) it arrived at West Burrafirth.

The Snolda out of the water in Scalloway on Monday.