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Fire destroys fish factory in Peterhead


Fresh Catch processing facilities. (Photo: Northbay Pelagic)

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Monday, January 19, 2015, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Last Saturday, a major fire destroyed two buildings of Fresh Catch a fish factory in Peterhead belonging to Northbay Pelagic, for reasons that researchers are trying to determine.
"The main processing and packing lines have been lost and the company’s office and administration block has been destroyed. However, key strategic areas of our facility remain fully operational and we continue to service our business and customer needs," Northabay Pelagic director, Chris Anderson, explained in a statement.
"We are currently looking at all of our options going forward and we will hopefully announce our plan of action soon. In the meantime, we are sourcing temporary accommodation for our administration and management staff and re-establishing daily communications with all of our customers and suppliers," he added.
Fresh Catch was founded by Chris Anderson in 1989, and is one of Europe’s biggest pelagic fish processors, mainly focused on mackerel and herring.
Ten years ago, production moved to its current facilities at the former Crosse and Blackwell factory.
In 2012, it was discovered that the firm had secret underground pipes and hidden switches, which were used to illegally land herring and mackerel worth millions of pounds.
The High Court in Edinburgh fined the company GBP 160,000 (USD 242,158), which had admitted helping skippers make undeclared landings worth GBP 10 million (USD 15.1 million). It was also ordered to forfeit GBP 500,000 (USD 756,745), The Press and Journal reported.
At the time, the operations were transferred to a new company, North Bay Pelagic, whose website describes it as a “collaborative venture between Peterhead-based Fresh Catch Ltd, Plymouth based Interfish Ltd and the Shetland company Altaire Fishing”.
Fresh Catch’s latest turnover was GBP 30.1 million (USD 45.5 million), down from GBP 37.5 million (USD 56.7 million) in 2011/12.
Regarding the incident that happened during the weekend, Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said, "As we start the new mackerel season the Scottish government stands ready to assist in the aftermath of this fire in any way we can.”
Northbay Pelagic employs about 300 people in Peterhead.
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