Bright hopes for future of fishing industry

by Tom Morton -

As Shetland prepares to welcome another state-of-the-art addition to her fishing fleet, in the form of Whalsay-owned supertrawler Serene (see previous shetland.org story here) renewed confidence and positivity is the order of the day in the sector, according to Lerwick Port Authority.

“While the pelagic processing sector remains squeezed in a weak international marketplace, there is also a positive message, with owners investing around £150 million in the Shetland fleet with delivery of five replacement vessels in 2018-19,” said LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson. These new vessels will be able to use the authority’s new fishmarket, which is set to open in 2020.

The LPA is participating in the major fishing exhibition, Skipper Expo International, in Aberdeen this weekend (25 and 26 May), and, says Ms Laurenson, the new £7.6 million whitefish market at the recently-constructed Mair’s Quay is part of the authority’s strategy of helping sustain and develop the industry. Building work, by Tulloch Developments, began in May, and when open in less than two years’ time the market will double current capacity to 1600 square metres and provide a range of other major benefits.

The new fishmarket will double current capacity

Mair’s Quay and Mair's Pier have both been completed in recent years and the new fish market marks the completion of regeneration of the port's Holmsgarth area as a modern industry hub.

“The white fish sector is enjoying a period of robust health, with plentiful stocks, good prices and new fleet investment,” said Ms Lauresnon. “Management of stocks in recent years has resulted in increased stocks and the renewed confidence in the sector is heartening.”

Recent figures from the Port Authority for the three months to March this year showed white fish landings had risen by 7.8% and value had increased by 13%, compared with the same period in 2017, for an average price of £1,833 per tonne, up 4.1%.

“While inevitably there will be challenges,” said Ms Laurenson, “not least the resolution of fishing policy post-Brexit, the latest investment by the industry and the Port Authority will help sustain and develop the Shetland sector’s future, harbour activity and the strength of the Shetland economy.”

Inevitably, there will be challenges