Nearly 30 jobs have been lost on a small Scottish island with the closure of a packing plant less than a year after it reopened.
Salmon packing factory Norpak Island Ltd worked on contract for the Meridian Salmon Group, processing fish farmed from its cages at Unst, Yell and the Shetland west mainland.
Meridian lost 300,000 fully grown salmon when 12 of its cages were cast adrift in the North Sea during 100mph at Christmas.
The loss has meant a major setback for Whalsay-based Norpak, which has now closed its doors, meaning the loss of 26 jobs.
Managing director David Leask says another big challenge for the company is uncertainty over the island's ferry service and fears the freight service could be reduced.
In a statement, the company said: "There has been a huge investment in both equipment and staff for the factory, but with the uncertainty of the ferry service going forward it would be too unreliable for their customers.
"Norpak Island Ltd tried to reduce their reliance on the ferries by taking their own harvest vessel direct to Whalsay, but due to space issues in the harbour and on the pier this could not continue.
"The company could not remain competitive and could not offer the assurances on their service provision due to the uncertainty of the ferries so it was decided to close the operation."
The factory, set up by Angus and Ivor Johnson, closed its doors in autumn 2010 due to a shortage of fish, but reopened in July last year.
Mr Leask said the company "probably" could have coped with the loss of salmon, despite it meaning three months without work.
But the uncertainty over the ferry service was the final straw, on top of increases to ferry fares and a lack of space on ferries. The company regularly had five or six lorries using the service every day, with hauliers often having to book three months in advance.
Mr Leask said: "The council can't guarantee to our customers that there aren't going to be cuts and that was a real shot across our bow.
"We would probably have expanded at the end of this year with a lot more tonnage coming out. The factory could have coped, but the ferry service couldn't."
- Contract awarded for £243m ferry services to Scotland's northern isles
- Salmon cages lost at sea slowly being retrieved
- Salmon haul lost as cages cast into sea
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