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Fish farm hatches plan for second halibut fund

UK - A fish farm business on the island of Gigha is to raise new funds after a unique investment deal produced big returns for its backers.

Otter Ferry Seafish, a hatchery in Argyll, set up the Gigha Halibut business on a defunct salmon farm two years ago after its biggest customer moved operations to Norway.

In a first for the Scottish industry, Gigha Halibut raised £1m from private investors and Bank of Scotland to develop 140,000 young fish to the point where they could be sold to restaurants. The fish which developed are expected to sell for £2m this autumn, giving investors a healthy payback.

DC Consulting, the Dundee corporate finance boutique which arranged the deal, is now looking to raise £800,000, split between debt and equity, for a second Gigha Halibut fund.

Gigha has secured contracts with a number of restaurants and is in talks with Marks & Spencer, which obtains most of its halibut from the wild. The company is the biggest private employer on Gigha with eight employees, one fifth of the island's working population.

Alastair Barge, Gigha's managing director, said: "You have declining fisheries, but more and more fish is on the slab. Fish farming is moving up the agenda."