By Adam CivicoJune 21st 2021

Lerwick has been named Port of the Year, in recognition of a multi-million pound project to create a state-of-the-art hub for the fishing industry.

The completion of a £30 million scheme to build a long-term future for Lerwick Harbour has earned the port a prestigious industry accolade.

Lerwick has received the 2021 Port of the Year Award in the annual Fishing News awards. The award recognises the port’s “excellence in service and amenities” and is used to set a benchmark for good practice.

It marks the culmination of years of investment with significant developments designed to create a modern hub for the fishing industry now completed.

Shetland is in the heart of rich and diverse fishing grounds. The new development includes a state-of-the-art fishmarket for handling the high quality whitefish landed daily.

The nomination for Lerwick stated: “The first whitefish to be landed into the new fishmarket at Lerwick in August 2020 marked a major milestone for all concerned.

“Featuring four temperature-controlled bays covering a floor area of 1,600m2, double the capacity of its predecessor, the new market building, which includes first-floor office accommodation for all the relevant fishing associations in Shetland, marked the culmination of a farsighted £30m-plus project to create a modern hub for the fishing industry that started over 10 years ago.

“Work included initial pre-dredging, constructing the 150m-long Mair’s Quay, reclaiming 1.45 hectares of land on which the new market and its service area now stand, and construction of the L-shaped Holmsgarth North development, which created 800m of deepwater berthing.”

The new market building ... marked the culmination of a farsighted £30m-plus project to create a modern hub for the fishing industry that started over 10 years ago.

Lerwick Port Authority

It is the second time Lerwick Harbour has won the Fishing News award, this year having faced competition from the Aberdeenshire port of Fraserburgh, Newlyn in Cornwall and Eastbourne on the southeast coast of England.

Lerwick Port Authority chairman Ronnie Gair said the port was proud to receive the award again.

“We see it as recognition of our proactive strategy, our continuing commitment to the fishing industry, and the team approach which went into phased developments over the years to deliver modern facilities for the sector.

“The £7.6 million whitefish market is an excellent example of our long-term planning. It was the final component in an integrated programme designed to reinforce Lerwick’s position as a leading UK fishing port and to sustain and develop the contribution to the Shetland economy.”

Shetland’s whitefish sector landed almost 25,000 tonnes in 2019, according to Shetland Fishermen’s Association, with a value of £52 million.

The islands are also home to an impressive fleet of pelagic vessels, fishing for migratory species like herring, mackerel and blue whiting. Shetland boats laded more than 69,000 tonnes of pelagic fish in 2019, worth around £64 million.

Meanwhile, the inshore fleet of small boats harvesting shellfish like lobsters, crabs and scallops landed almost 2,100 tonnes, with a value of £6 million.

Port authority chief executive Calum Grains, said there were multiple benefits to the work.

“The coordinated sequence of dredging, constructing Mair’s Quay, Mair’s Pier and the market, plus related improvements, created a state-of-the-art hub for the industry, enhancing the quality of fish landed and sold, increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact.”

Construction of the quays also meant benefits for other port users, including berthing, a net repair area and additional shore power points for both the whitefish and pelagic sector.

The investment was backed by European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and finance from Bank of Scotland.

Optimal location

Other developments have been carried out at Lerwick Harbour over recent years including the construction of a deep-water quay at Dales Voe to serve the growing decommissioning sector.

The 14,200 tonne Ninian Northern platform is the largest to be handled in Lerwick to date. Decommissioning involves salvaging metal and other reusable commodities to minimise the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

The LPA is also working on plans to create an ultra-deep-water quay. It comes after a UK government-commissioned nationwide feasibility study identified Dales Voe as the “optimal location for the UK’s ultra-deep-water decommissioning facility”.

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