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Fish auctioneering firm trials machine grading

| Written by Hans J Marter

SHETLAND Seafood Auction is piloting new ways of further improving prices for fish landed at the islands' two fish markets.

Following a pilot project trialling machine grading of flatfish at Scalloway fish market, the auctioning company has now applied for European grant funding (EMFF FLAG) to help purchase a Compact grader to allow a commercial trial at Lerwick and Scalloway fish markets involving more species.

A decision on whether that funding application is successful is expected later this year.

Shetland Seafood Auction manager Martin Leyland said the pilot machine, seen here in operation at the Scalloway fish market, is part of a strategy that aims to offer the market the highest quality fish.

"Today's markets for fish require exact specifications and that leads to increased prices for the fishermen," he said.

"We are now at the start of a journey towards deciding on whether to use machine grading at both new fish markets."

The electronic auction system, introduced in 2003, has proved a huge success for Shetland as a place to land and market fish.

Since then landings have grown steadily reaching a 30-year high in 2016 when more than 350,000 boxes were brought ashore.

Over the years the auctioneering company introduced a degree of hand-grading fish before going to market.

These efforts are now being stepped up with the introduction of machine grading, an innovation that is already paying off.

"A customer bought megrim on this morning's market, and we are now grading it and repacking it in polystyrene boxes for its onward journey to Spain," Leyland said.



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