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Record whitefish landings

Three whitefish boats at Lerwick Harbour.

A RECORD volume of whitefish was landed in Shetland this year as nearly 403,000 boxes were brought into the isles.

This is a big increase on the 357,101 boxes of fish like cod, haddock and whiting which were landed last year.

The rise has been put down to buoyant fish stocks, larger quotas and Shetland’s position as a landing port.

Shetland Seafood Auctions’ Martin Leyland said the news reaffirms why work is being planned on upgrading the fish markets in Lerwick and Scalloway.

“Importantly, record volumes were matched this year with consistently high prices,” he said.

“This is a reflection of the quality of the fish we present to buyers and smart logistics right through the supply chain.

“The major stocks are in a very healthy condition, and fishermen consistently report back that they haven’t seen such big volumes for a generation or more.”

Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Brian Isbister added: “After having experienced so many difficult years, it tremendous to now see Shetland’s whitefish fishermen being able to look forward to the future with real optimism.”

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins reiterated that the isles have a “great deal to gain from UK control of its own waters” post-Brexit despite the record figures.

The news comes, meanwhile, after Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael asked in the House of Commons for more clarity on the UK’s fishing industry once the country leaves the European Union.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael questioned UK prime minister Theresa May about the future of fishing.

He questioned “what else is there to talk about” in negotiations if the UK is due to leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and there will be no “trade off” for access to the country’s waters for non-UK vessels.

Prime minister Theresa May replied: “I say to the Rt. Hon. Gentleman, we will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy on the 29th March 2019 and the CAP as I indicated.

“The arrangements that pertain to fisheries during that implementation period will of course be part of the negotiation for that implementation period.

“Leaving the CFP and leaving the CAP, give us the opportunity post-that implementation period to actually introduce arrangements that work for the United Kingdom, and that is what my Rt. Hon. Friend the environment secretary is discussing with the fishing and agricultural industries about what those arrangements for the future should be.”

Speaking after the exchange, Carmichael said that “all the prime minister had to say was that access to UK waters would not be traded off against any other deal”.

“She was asked a very simple question and gave a long rambling answer. In the 1970s the then Conservative government regarded our fishing industry as being ‘expendable’,” he continued.

“It looks increasingly as if very little has changed in the succeeding 40 years.”