News / Courageous young men boost whitefish fleet

The Courageous with her new owners (from left): Christopher Irvine, skipper Ian Shearer, Malcolm Reid and James Johnson. Photo Ivan Reid

THE SECOND new white fish vessel to join the Shetland fleet this year set off on her maiden voyage in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Four young Whalsay fishermen sailed into Symbister harbour on Tuesday evening on board the 20 year old Yell trawler Guardian Angell, which they have purchased and renamed Courageous (LK 470).

The move brings the size of the islands’ white fish fleet up to 26 fishing boats, following the arrival of the Avrella in February, a Fraserburgh fishing boat now taken over by the Cummings family from Burra.

The crew of the Guardian Angell are meanwhile awaiting the arrival this summer of their new fuel-efficient trawler, which is currently being built by Parkol Marine in Whitby with the help of a £1.1 million loan from Shetland Islands Council.

Local fish agents LHD are helping the Courageous crew, who are aged between 17 and 25, by giving them a foothold in an industry that is very expensive to enter with the cost of acquiring quota on top of the purchase of the vessel and its licence.


LHD’s Ritchie Simpson said they were allowing the young men to pay for these extra costs over a period of time to ease the financial burden.

“It’s not easy to get young folk into the fishing because quota is so expensive so we try to encourage young ones to get started and it’s fine to see that it can be done,” he said.

Simpson said it was a coincidence that two new boats had joined the fleet in the first few months of this year, but added that it signified there were plenty of fish to be caught around the isles.

“It’s a sign the fishing has been a good bit better,” he said. “I have done this job for 40 odd years and I can’t remember there being this quantity of fish around.”

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Shetland Fishermen’s Association chief executive Simon Collins said these fishermen were “a slap in the face” for those who thought young people were only interested in playing computer games.

“They are showing the kind of spirit their forefathers had by taking a risk and going for it; this is something Shetlanders have always done,” he said.

Collins added that while taking on a new vessel was a major commitment in these days of expensive quotas, there had rarely been a better time to get into the industry.

“The fish stocks are miles better than they have been in living memory, the fundamentals have not been better for 40 years or more.

“So if you can get through all the regulatory problems the industry is facing at the moment, what is happening in the natural environment is very, very positive.

“The industry has been struggling for a long time, and now is arguably the best possible time to get into it.”

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