A £15.5million new salmon hatchery at Girlsta in Shetland had its official opening on Saturday.
The investment by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland (GSH) – backed by European Union fisheries funding and Shetland Islands Council (SIC) – has created 16 jobs in the production of 5million juvenile salmon a year.
Growing the fish locally will allow the company to maximise salmon output from its Shetland sites.
It will also help to cut GSH’s carbon footprint by reducing and potentially eliminating the need for the transportation of juvenile salmon from mainland Scotland.
The new Millbrook hatchery uses the latest technology in water re-circulation, allowing for the production of good quality juvenile fish from a much smaller volume of freshwater than is possible using traditional methods.
GSH said Shetland, which accounts for about one-third of Scotland’s farmed salmon, now had the potential to become self-sufficient in the production of juveniles for the first time despite the islands’ relatively modest supply of freshwater.
Sigurd Pettersen, regional director for the Norwegian-owned firm, said: “This investment by Grieg Seafood represents a huge leap forward for us and is tangible evidence of the company’s continuing commitment to salmon farming in Shetland.
“It will help to make us a more sustainable company for the future, both environmentally and financially.”
SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said: “I’m really pleased to see Grieg Seafood make such a positive contribution to the local aquaculture industry.
“The council has supported this project from the outset and our financial contribution of £314,000 has helped to attract almost £1.1million of European fisheries funding into Shetland.”
GSH, which owns salmon harvesting, processing and packing company Lerwick Fish Traders, now employs about 170 people in Shetland.
It is part of Bergen-based fish farming giant Grieg Seafood, which employs around 700 people at production sites in Norway, Canada and Shetland.