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New investment for Britain’s most northerly fish farm

31 October 2012

Britain's most northerly fish farm is investing more than £90,000 in a project designed to protect stock from seals.

Balta Island Seafare Ltd operates four marine farming sites in the clear waters off the coast of Unst, the most northerly Shetland Isle. Established in 1987 and employing six people, the company produces high quality, Organic certified salmon which is mainly exported to Europe.

Although the remote location is ideal for growing salmon, there are great challenges, violent winter storms and an ever present population of hungry seals. The project will replace traditional nylon nets with nets manufactured from stronger modern fibres and install two new electronic seal scarers.

The £94,689 project is being supported by £28,407 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and £9,469 through the European Fisheries Fund.

Christopher Ritch from Balta Island Seafare Ltd, said: "We have had some success deterring seals with electronic scarers, and these new scarers should exclude seals from an even bigger area around the cages. Together with the stronger nets, I think this will go a long way towards allowing us to farm in harmony with the local nature and keep the company growing"

David Priest from HIE, said: "Fish farming is a major part of the Shetland economy and is estimated to be worth £130 million. The loss of stock from seals not only damages the business but escaped farmed salmon can also cause environmental damage by threatening the wild salmon population. The new nets and equipment installed by Balta Island Seafare will protect these wild stocks while also increasing the profitability of the business."

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