Scottish Sea Farms doubles processing capacity in Shetland with £2.5m refit

Leroy and SalMar-owned Scottish Sea Farms invests in "facility of the future" in Shetland, fully refitting its Lerwick fish processing centre with new technology and room for expansion.
Scottish Sea Farms’ Lober Rock salmon farm in Orkney.
Scottish Sea Farms’ Lober Rock salmon farm in Orkney. Photo: Scottish Sea Farms.

Scottish Sea Farms has completed a £2.5 million refurbishment at its Lerwick facility, doubling the processing capacity in Shetland from 25,000 tonnes annually to 50,000 tonnes.

The company, which is jointly owned by the Norwegian groups Leroy Seafood and SalMar, said the "strategic enhancement" anticipates higher volumes and represents a significant milestone for the company, underscoring its commitment to operational efficiency and innovation.

Processing hub refit to create "facility of the future"

The Lerwick facility, which Scottish Sea Farms acquired through its purchase of Grieg Seafood Shetland in December 2021, now stands as a central fish processing hub in the region.

Head of Processing Operations, Donald Buchanan, emphasized Scottish Sea Farms' objective of creating a 'facility of the future' capable of handling all fish from the expanded Northern Isles estate.

"We stripped back the existing processing facility to its very core, right down to adding new floors, drains, and internal fabrication. Then we reconfigured the layout to create self-contained areas for the key activities of harvesting, gutting, and packing," Buchanan explained.

Ace Aquatec provided key technology for new facility, with fish welfare a priority

A crucial aspect of the new harvesting area is the implementation of an in-water stunner supplied by Ace Aquatec, ensuring a humane harvesting process by rendering fish unconscious while in their natural water environment. Buchanan highlighted the commitment to high welfare treatment, including a smaller stunner for bycatch and cleaner fish.

Now fully operational, the Lerwick facility has achieved various certifications and standards, including RSPCA Assured, Global GAP, Label Rouge, M&S, and Waitrose.

"Ensuring the facility complies with our many different certifications and standards has required a colossal amount of work from each of the teams involved," said Andy Gourlay, Head of Technical at Scottish Sea Farms.

Expanded capacity and flexibility for future growth

With the capacity to handle 200 tonnes a day, the Lerwick facility has doubled its previous capacity, and there is still 40% of available floor space for potential future growth.

"Not only have we doubled capacity in the here and now, but there’s scope to increase that further to process up to 70,000 tonnes annually, over years to come, should we wish to," Buchanan said.

The Lerwick facility not only signifies a substantial increase in processing capabilities but also provides a more spacious working environment for the 80-strong processing team, complete with new amenities such as changing rooms, a lounge, and a dedicated canteen serving home-cooked food.

Meanwhile, Scottish Sea Farms' Scalloway base also remains a key facility, the company said, offering secondary harvesting support during peak volumes and supporting various farming activities for the company.

Scottish Sea Farms to consolidate salmon farming operations in Shetland

In September, Scottish Sea Farms announced that it intended to expand and consolidate its salmon farming operations in Shetland, with the announcement of a new larger salmon farm west of South Whiteness.

The move is one of the latest such developments at Scottish Sea Farms facilities around Scotland, with a total of six sites already announced as being modernised or consolidated during the current farming year.

Since 2021, the Scottish company has modernised 14 of its salmon farming facilities, most recently with its Loch Nevis facility undergoing a £1.5 million update.

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