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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Fish farm firm merger probe call
A Scottish fish farm
Fish farming is a major employer in the Highlands and Islands
A proposed inquiry into the merger of three fish farming giants should take evidence from Highlands and Islands communities, a senior councillor said.

The joining of Pan Fish, Marine Harvest and Fjord Seafood will give the new company control of 65% of farmed Scottish salmon production.

The Office of Fair Trading has referred it to the Competition Commission.

Highland Council vice-convener Michael Foxley has asked that local communities be involved in any investigation.

The merger has sparked fears that it could lead to hundred of job loses.

It has been referred to the commission because the move could increase salmon prices and have an impact on the Scottish salmon market.

Mr Foxley said hundreds of salmon farming jobs had gone already and that the merger would cut more.

Financial help must now be directed to maintaining independent companies, he added.

Pan Fish has offered to divest itself of parts of the three companies to avoid the commission forbidding the merger which has already been approved in Norway, Canada and Spain.

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