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Jobs to go as cod hatchery dies

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Hans J Marter

13 May, 2008

THE COLLAPSE of Shetland cod farming pioneers No Catch will cost 15 highly skilled, fish rearing specialists their jobs when the company's hatchery, at Sandwick, closes within the next few weeks.

The blow comes as administrators Grant Thornton continue trying to sell off the remaining assets of the company that ran out of money in February with more than £40 million of debt.

The trail blazers in aquaculture had set out to introduce the "world's first sustainable white fish", but failed miserably when projected sales did not materialise and mounting costs became overwhelming.

The NuFish hatchery was bought by No Catch in 2005 when a £3 million investment package led to a significant increase in production of juvenile cod to meet the company's ambitious overall targets.

Grant Thornton have now confirmed that it has proved impossible to sell the hatchery as a going concern because there is no other large cod farming enterprise anywhere in the European Union.

An attempt to export 470,000 codlings to Norway was rejected by that country's veterinary services.

A spokesman for the administrators said they were now in the process of "decommissioning" the plant and three staff had already been made redundant.

"The administrators took that decision following the refusal of the Norwegian government to licence the import of the current stock,” he said.

"There have been 15 people employed at the hatchery, three have now been made redundant and there will be further redundancies in line with the decommissioning.

"This is a very unfortunate situation. There is a considerable intellectual property held at the hatchery, but without the prospect of exporting the stock, it is impossible to sell it as a stand alone business.”

Meanwhile efforts are still being made to sell No Catch's considerable interest in mussel farming as well as around one million young cod held in cages in Vidlin Voe.

Last month the bulk of No Catch's fish farming assets were sold to Shetland's two largest salmon farming businesses, Hjaltland Seafarms and Scottish Sea Farms, while the Grading Systems business went to Viking Atlantic and the Vidlin head office was bought back by local fish farmers Angus and Ivor Johnson of Green Island Organics.

Most recent update - Sunday, 03 August 2008 23:43
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