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Business / Ronas Voe fish factory set for new lease of life

THE FISH factory in Ronas Voe is set to reopen – bringing an employment boost to Northmavine.

The company behind the plans intend to transport seafood mainly to France.

The building was last used as a crab factory before shutting in 2020. It is now being taken on by Shetland Global Seafood Ltd, which is recruiting staff.

Local councillor Tom Morton said it will be a “real shot in the arm” for the community.

Factory manager Michel Tordoir, who worked at the building when it processed crab, said it could reopen in the coming weeks.

His hope would be for between five to seven staff to come on board.

Tordoir said the aim is to blanch locally caught seafood like lobsters and crab before freezing it and sending the produce south.

But the factory could also take in fresh fish caught by Shetland boats too.

The factory was previously run by Shetland Crab Ltd – which was a subsidiary of Blueshell Mussels – but Tordoir said it was “so difficult to find the right market”.

One of the main reasons was the price of elements like delivery, he said.

Tordoir said a year ago a new business model was found, with a new company then created.

One of the owners has a fish factory in France, but there is an apparent lack of product there – resulting in that facility sometimes having to close.

Tordoir said the plan is to tap into the resources of the seas around Shetland, and ship the product away.

“The idea is to take the products from Shetland fishermen – it will be crab, fish, whelks, lobster – any kind of seafood,” he said.

“What we will do here in Shetland is just blanch the crab or the lobster or whelks, and then freeze them. Each time we have a full truck, it’s going to France. That’s for the shellfish, blanched and frozen.

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“For the fish we want to have a very good quality. We will buy fish directly from the fishermen – not the big, huge factory boats.”

He said the company would collect fish itself, meaning small boats would not have to have to make long journeys to land their catch.

Tordoir said it is possible that the produce from Shetland may go elsewhere in the world, but France will remain the primary destination.

The building, which was refurbished in the 2010s, will initially be leased for a few years.

Labour councillor Morton said: “It’s really good news to hear that such a fantastic local resource is reopening and will offer a doorstep market to local inshore fishermen and seafood gatherers. Also that someone as experienced as Michel is managing it.

“The employment opportunities offered will I hope suit and provide much needed income for many nort folk.

“The Ronas Voe reopening is a real shot in the arm for the local community, fishermen and is a fitting postscript to the misconceived and now redundant GreenNat HPMA [Highly Protected Marine Area] policy.”

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