The Scottish Salmon Co has announced a review of its Stornoway harvesting and processing operations that could lead to nearly 170 job cuts.

In a statement today (15 January), the company said it has begun a consultation process with staff to explore options to redeploy staff employed at the facility, where possible.

The company said it has had its expansion plans hampered through being unable to secure planning permission for new sites or expanded capacity.

A consultation process has begun with staff to explore options to redeploy people where possible or offer assistance to find alternative employment. In addition, “biological challenges” last year impeded the growth of the salmon and impacted on the volumes for 2013.

“Despite our best efforts to correct the imbalance of production cycles across the company’s operation, we have not been able to establish and develop new sites as originally expected within the necessary timescales,” said SSC chief executive Stewart McLelland. “This process of expansion continues but, for the moment, there is now a time lag before sufficient numbers of next generation of fish can be harvested and processed through Marybank.”

As a final blow, McLelland said an “uncharacteristically” low market price for salmon last year meant its income has been reduced.

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By GlobalData

“When combined with insufficient fish to process, it is another reason why we cannot operate Marybank, in the short term, without cutting jobs,” he said.

The company, however, said it is hopeful of having more volume towards the end of 2013 and into 2014 when fish from the firm’s new site in Highland region are ready to be harvested.

The firm said it is also pursuing new planning consents at other locations in the Western Isles and the mainland, which would secure the levels of production needed for its Marybank (processing) and Arnish (harvesting) facilities to work at full capacity in the longer term.