Scottish Sea Farms' Girlsta hatchery was back online at 4am.
Scottish Sea Farms' Girlsta hatchery was back online at 4am.

Shetland salmon farmers quickly back in business after telecoms blackout

Cooke and Scottish Sea Farms laud rapid response by engineers


Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Scottish Sea Farms have praised the efforts of telecoms engineers who helped restore communications to their Shetland operations after a subsea cable was badly damaged.

Police declared a major incident after the south subsea cable between the islands and the Scottish mainland was cut. The force said phones, internet and computers were not usable.

The cause of the damage is not known.

Outage at midnight

Scottish Sea Farms’ IT operations and infrastructure leader Colin Kupris, who oversaw the work to reconnect essential business services, said: “The outage occurred around midnight, affecting services across Shetland – our own farms and facilities included.

“One of our local providers, Shetland Telecom, was able to restore service around 4 am, bringing our Girlsta Hatchery and Gremista processing facility back online.

“Thanks to their efforts in the early hours, our own in-house IT and data team were then able to extend that connectivity out to our wider network, with Pundsvoe, Gonfirth, and Setterness shore bases coming back online around 11 am and our Scalloway processing facility by 12 noon.

“Normal business has since resumed across almost all of our Shetland operations, meaning there has been minimal disruption to customers.

“Services from our other communications providers now appear to be coming back online but the Shetland Telecom team will go down as our heroes of the day.”

Business continuity plan

Joel Richardson, vice president public relations for Cooke, said: “Like all others in Shetland, our operations were temporarily impacted by the loss of communications connectivity via the subsea cable between the islands and the mainland.

“Cooke Aquaculture Scotland in Shetland has implemented their systems business continuity plan. Internet and mobile communications are now back up and running.

“We greatly appreciate the work engineers and technicians are performing to restore connectivity quickly.”

According to a report on the BBC, the damage to the communications cable meant that many shops were unable to take card payments.

The report quoted a BT spokesperson who said engineers were working to divert services via other routes as quickly as possible.

Taken back 30 years

Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael told the BBC that the damage had caused “catastrophic impact”.

He said: “Communication is critical to modern life, to business, to the emergency services and education - just about every aspect of modern life.

“It’s like somebody has flipped a switch and taken us back 20 or 30 years. [If] you live in an island community, you know sometimes these things happen and that’s why we have to learn the lessons from this.”