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Irish net-maker outlines Scottish salmon farming expansion plans

SNG Aqua's current facility in Lerwick. The company plans a big expansion at Toft. Photo: SNG Aqua.
SNG Aqua's current facility in Lerwick. The company plans a big expansion at Toft. Photo: SNG Aqua.

Irish net manufacturer Swan Net Gundry (SNG) has told Fish Farming Expert about its plans to become an integral part of the Scottish salmon net services industry following the creation of its Shetland-based subsidiary, SNG Aqua UK, last year.

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SNG has been in operation in Ireland for over 50 years, and its aquaculture division has been active at the company’s Killybegs manufacturing unit in Donegal since 2005.

The company has recently submitted a planning application for a new net cleaning and repair plant on a 10,000m² site at Toft at the north end of Mainland, Shetland.

The Toft facility will include storage for clean and dirty nets as well as a net cleaning facility, a welfare staff building and a filtration unit that will recover copper from the waste water. SNG plans to grow from one 60m³ washer, which can deal with the largest of nets, to two in consecutive years.

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SNG Aqua plans a net cleaning and repair facility at Toft at the north end of Mainland, Shetland.
SNG Aqua plans a net cleaning and repair facility at Toft at the north end of Mainland, Shetland.

SNG Aqua UK manager Philip Nicolson, a Shetland native who has spent more than 30 years working in aquaculture in various parts of the world, said he hoped to have the facility working before the end of the year.

Nicolson said the project has so far been a huge success, with the Irish and newly-developed UK team working very closely together. He added that the UK team head been greatly enhanced by SNG’s acquisition of Shetland company KG Nets, owned by Gary Anderson, who has a wealth of experience in the aquaculture industry.

20 employees

SNG Aqua UK has major plans for expansion and growth in the forthcoming years for the Toft area development, with staff numbers expected to grow from five to 20 employees in the next five years, explained Nicolson.

With this in mind SNG Aqua UK is working closely with Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to develop an apprenticeship scheme in order to support the local community and develop the company’s in-house skillset.

“We were looking at a type of apprenticeship that could encompass more of what an apprenticeship used to be, over several years, to gain all the aspects of the job,” said the manager.

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