12 April, 2008
SHETLAND Islands Council has apologised to islanders on Yell and Unst after
sending one of their inter island ferries to rescue 40,000 baby salmon from
The Bluemull Sound service between Yell and Unst was down to a single vessel for
five hours yesterday (Friday).
The trouble began on Tuesday when the ferry Geira grounded on the beach
at Gutcher, on Yell, after her steering failed. The council brought in its spare
ferry Thora, which meant cancelling a private charter with salmon farmers
Mainstream Scotland to deliver salmon smolts.
When 40,000 smolts turned up in Lerwick harbour yesterday morning for immediate
delivery to cages in Mid Yell, the company hired Shetland firm Manson Marine to
bring a vessel north from Orkney to do the job.
Unfortunately their vessel - the former SIC ferry Grima - broke down as
she was leaving Orkney, leaving tens of thousands of pounds worth of smolts
stranded onshore in two trucks.
SIC’s assistant marine superintendent David Polson was left with the tough
decision of running the service with one ferry for a few hours or letting the
smolts die on the lorries when they got to Yell.
“The artic trucks couldn’t go back with the smolts and I couldn’t see the other
operator getting repairs made and getting back to Shetland in time,” Captain
He decided the only option was to take the ferry Thora out of service for
some of the day to get the smolts to sea. “The alternative was to sit by and
watch 40,000 smolts die,” he said.
“We had no legal or contractual obligation to undertake this hire, but given the
circumstances, we are the only people in Shetland who could assist.
“As such, I took the decision on welfare grounds and the fact that failing to
come to Mainstream’s aid would see a product worth many tens of thousands of
Mainstream have assured Captain Polson that they will not move any more smolts
until the other operator has a vessel on site or a spare SIC ferry available.
He added: “I offer our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this will
doubtless have caused. If I thought there was another avenue open to us, I would
have taken it.”