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Isles land more fish than England/Wales/NI combined

The newly lengthened Alison Kay vessel at Scalloway last month - another sign of an industry with a vibrant future.

FISH landings in Shetland last year exceeded the combined total in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to new figures from the NAFC Marine Centre.

More fish was landed in the islands than at any UK port apart from Peterhead, according to provisional statistics compiled by Dr Ian Napier for the marine college.

Shetland boats accounted for more than a fifth – 22 per cent – of all landings by UK boats in 2015. The figures are further evidence highlighting the importance of fish catching to Shetland and, in turn, how significant a role the islands play in the UK fishing industry.

With stocks recovering markedly in the past few years after a difficult period, many within the industry are now hopeful of a bright future.

Dr Napier’s statistics, derived from UK Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation (SFPO) data, highlight that overall 73,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth £60 million were landed in Shetland in 2015 by local and visiting boats.

When landings by Shetland boats elsewhere – mainly pelagic vessels – are added, the estimated total of “Shetland” landings was almost 155,000 tonnes worth £106 million.

The weight and turnover of whitefish laid down on quays in Lerwick, Scalloway and other parts of the islands fell slightly to just under 16,000 tonnes and £26 million.

Cod overtook haddock as the most landed whitefish species by weight and value and there were big increases in landings of plaice, lemon sole, monkfish and hake.

Pelagic landings in Shetland, worth around £31 million, continued to be dominated by mackerel, which accounted for 76 per cent by weight and 84 per cent by value.

Shellfish landings, at 1,800 tonnes worth £3.6 million, were slightly lower than in 2014 (five per cent by value and seven per cent by weight).

Dr Napier said: “These are provisional figures based on currently available data, but they demonstrate that the fishing industry continues to be a hugely significant contributor to the local economy.

“Equally, the landings in Shetland by local and visiting boats demonstrate that Shetland is a major component of the UK fishing industry.”