Shetland couple in the swim with live fish venture

Marianne and Gilbert Clark of North Isles Marine with the MV Settler
Marianne and Gilbert Clark of North Isles Marine with the MV Settler
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A HUSBAND-AND-WIFE team from Shetland have doubled the number of staff they employ after buying a second boat for the transportation of live fish.

North Isles Marine has created nine jobs following the purchase of MV Settler, a 40-metre wellboat with large vats of water that allow fish to remain live up to the point of processing. The vessel will operate alongside North Isles’ existing wellboat, MV Norholm, which mainly handles delivery of smolt to salmon farms.

Based on Yell, in the Shetland Islands, North Isles was founded in September 2008 by Marianne and Gilbert Clark. They purchased their first vessel through a combination of savings, family support and fin­ancing from Clydesdale Bank, which also backed the purchase of the new boat.

“The wellboat industry at that time was dominated by Norwegian companies, and my husband worked in the fishing previously, and this was something he was really interested in,” Marianne said. “He wanted to see whether we could supply that service from Scotland.”

Launched amid an outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia that brought many Shetland farms to a standstill, North Isles got off to a difficult start but has since recovered with the rest of the industry. It currently generates more than £1 million in annual turnover, a figure that is expected to more than double following the acquisition of MV Settler.

The company has worked for most of the area’s producers, but its main customer is Norwegian-owned Scottish Sea Farms. It has more than 65 salmon farms across the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, where it also runs a processing facility.

The boat was purchased with a seven-figure package from Clydesdale, and is a “big step forward” for the company.

“The vessel has double the capacity of our original wellboat, the MV Norholm, and has enabled us to undertake a new exclusive contract with Scottish Sea Farms and double our workforce,” Marianne said.

Northern Isles has plans for a third new-build vessel which it hopes to get under construction next year.