SSQC Ltd was established as Shetland Seafood Quality Control Ltd in 1985, as an independent quality assurance organisation to maintain and strengthen Shetland’s reputation for high quality seafood products. Initially manned by only a single quality control inspector. At the time the company was established, Shetland had an active whitefish processing industry, and a fledgling aquaculture industry.
The seafood sector has changed dramatically over the last 20-30 years, the whitefish fleet has decreased significantly, whitefish processing has all but disappeared and the aquaculture industry has increased dramatically both in shellfish and finfish production, as well as processing. However the story of the aquaculture industry particularly salmon has been one of boom and bust. Consolidation which has been steadily occurring within the industry since the mid 1990’s, has seen the vast majority of the islands salmon farms, bought up by a small number of multi-national companies. Therefore in the space of 20 years the industry moved from what was initially viewed as a crofting side line, to a global operation predominantly owned outwith the islands.
Since its inception the role and services of SSQC, have broadened and expanded both outwith the islands, and into other economic sectors. The company now employs 13 staff and operates in four specialist areas, all of which have some degree of overlap.
Inspectorate Services - that undertakes quality assurance primarily for the aquaculture and whitefish industries
Analytical Services – that operate microbiology and chemistry laboratories for a wide range of sectors
Marine & Environmental Services – that operates a benthic laboratory and undertakes marine related consultancy services
Consultancy Services – that undertakes consultancy services mainly in relation to rural, island and marine areas
The current role of the company can be summarised as the provision of:
Independent quality assurance – ensuring and maintaining the high standard of produce originating in Shetland
Specialist time critical services – enabling quality and contamination issues to be identified and dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity
First line of defence for product quality contamination and disease – providing producers in Shetland with early identification of quality and contamination issues, enabling them to take prompt corrective action where necessary to deal with these
Assessment of the potential impact of development - ensuring compliance with legislative requirements, and quantifying potential social, economic and environmental impact