A mothballed gutting line at Marybank fish factory in Stornoway will be back in business later this summer with 22 jobs being reinstated.
The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) was forced to make 27 staff redundant earlier this year when they were hit by a shortage of fish – a situation they said was caused by delays in farm site planning applications and disease outbreaks.
The firm say they are now in a position to re-open the line and are looking to recruit 20 new Processing Operatives, one Quality Controller and one Hygiene Operative.
They said today (Thursday) the re-opening was due to an increase in fish but this was not due to additional fish farm sites in the Western Isles or the Highlands.
Over the last few months the factory has remained open with reduced staff and has produced fillet orders, however the added fish levels have meant they are able to recruit more staff sooner than they had expected originally.
Stewart McLelland, Chief Executive Officer for the Scottish Salmon Company, said he was particularly pleased that many previous employees were showing interest in returning to work at the factory.
“We are delighted to be able to open applications for the new roles at the Marybank site and especially pleased to see that a number of previous employees have shown interest in returning to work with us.”
He added: “The number of positions available is a positive sign that the company is developing in the right direction and it is important for us to be able to include the local workforce in our success.
“Salmon farming can be a very rewarding career and I am very proud to say that we have many members of staff with over 20 years’ experience. Our plans to develop our business to meet the growing demand for top quality Scottish salmon worldwide will hopefully mean that many more young people can enter the industry and enjoy a fulfilling working life.”
Although it is the aim of the company to expand its operations, a spokesperson said this week there remained an ‘imbalance of production cycles’. They added that it was their aim to increase volumes to achieve year round production However they said the staff taken on in August would be on long term and not temporary contracts.
They said: “Our expansion plans continue, but there always be a time lag before sufficient numbers of next generation fish can be harvested and processed.”
They added that the re-opening of the factory was not due to any new fish farm sites but that they were pleased to be able to take on staff sooner than originally expected.
“The Scottish Salmon Company always said that Marybank would begin recruiting again towards the end of this year. It was always planned that fish produced from other SSC sites would enable processing to return to normal levels at Marybank. We have experienced a good performance in our marine environment and this allows us to begin increased processing earlier than we had anticipated.
“In line with this schedule, it is SSC’s plan to have the 22 processing operatives trained and ready to begin work by August.”
The expansion of fish farms in the Western Isles is an area of huge concern to local group, The Outer Hebrides Against Fish Farm Campaign (OHAFF), who campaign against industrial fish farming around the islands.
They are pushing for tighter controls on fish farming companies to protect the environment around the islands.