Uncertainty surrounds 200 jobs at a fish farming company on Shetland following plans to sell up.

Grieg Seafood Shetland has announced a "strategic review" of its operations on the islands and says it is "aiming to sell when the timing is right".

The firm has 219 employees - operates 17 active seawater licences, one freshwater facility and one harvesting plant.

The Norwegian company said the Covid-19 pandemic had "severely" hit all of its markets.

Grieg Seafood has previously stated it will cease operations at its five farms on Skye after the current harvest is completed.

Now it wants to "divest" from Shetland too and focus its operations in Norway and Canada.

Grieg’s chief executive Andreas Kvame said: “We have seen steady improvements in fish health and survival over the last years on our farms in Shetland.

“I am both thankful for and impressed by the efforts of Grieg Seafood Shetland’s employees.

“At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted all of our markets. In light of these circumstances, we have to prioritise resources and investments and make some tough decisions.

“For Grieg Seafood’s total set-up as of today, we see the largest potential for sustainable growth in our Norwegian and Canadian regions.”

While there is an expectation for the process to be completed during next year, there is no defined timescale for the review.

“We regret that this process brings uncertainty for our employees and also to the local communities in Shetland," added Mr Kvame.

“Whatever the outcome of the review will be, I am confident that our Shetland farms and operations will continue to contribute significantly to Shetland’s economy in the future."

The company’s performance in the third quarter of the year was "challenging".

"Effects of the Covid-19 impacted price achievements negatively in all markets and we experienced operational challenges out of the ordinary on Isle of Skye," Mr Kvame added.

"On the other hand, our Norwegian regions delivered good results in the quarter."

In September Grieg Seafood said it would end operations on its five farms on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, due to the" long distance" between the island and its main operations on Shetland.

"The distance is too great to operate the two areas as one unit, and the Skye operation is too small to be operated as a separate unit," it said.

It said the decision was expedited due to an incident of "high mortality" at three of the Skye farms between late July and early-September 2020, mainly caused by abnormal levels of jellyfish.

"Unfortunately, 627 000 fish (approximately 1500 tonnes) were lost. Operations at the impacted sites are discontinued immediately, while operations at the two remaining farms will end after harvest in the coming months," the firm said.

"Grieg Seafood has 25 talented employees on the Isle of Skye, and the company regrets that this decision per now is expected to result in the loss of 8 jobs. Some of the employees will be able to continue working for Grieg Seafood should they want to relocate to Shetland."