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Fish landings down but still healthy

WHITEFISH landings at Lerwick and Scalloway were slightly down in 2010 compared to the last two years, but still significantly higher than earlier in the decade.
Following the last whitefish landings of the year on Friday, Shetland Seafood Auction said that 248,450 boxed had been landed between January and 17 December.
Fish landings at the Shetland fish markets remain relatively high despite quota restrictions as many Scottish based trawlers have now switched to using Lerwick and Scalloway due to its vicinity to the fishing grounds and the good prices paid at the electronic auction.
Last year 262,291 boxes of whitefish were landed with 263,583 the year before.
Prices on average were believed to be slightly higher than 2009 although figures will not be available before early in the New Year.
Last year whitefish worth £26.2 million was landed in Shetland, with £17.3 million coming from local boats and £8.9 million landed by non-Shetland whitefish vessels.
Auction manager Martin Leyland said: “I think we had another very good year, particularly considering that the boats had to cope with reduced days at sea and a further cut in the amount of fish they can land.
“We rely on the Shetland fleet in the main, but we have always attracted mainly Scottish boats to land, and that is continuing.
“Unfortunately this year some of our boats, in order to continue fishing despite quota limitations, had to fish away from Shetland.
“If those boats had been able to catch and land in Shetland, the figures would probably have been the same as the last two years,” he said.
“The general feeling is that prices were higher this year,” he added.
The amount of fish landed in Shetland is now back to a similar level to 20 years ago. That is mainly due to the investment into an electronic auction in Lerwick and the generally high demand for seafood in recent years.