SNP - Tom Wills

Harbour boss sees rosy future for fishing

Investment is being made in the Shetland pelagic fleet

THERE is a positive future ahead for the Shetland fishing industry, with multi-million pound investment in the white fish and pelagic sectors reflecting renewed confidence, according to Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson.

Speaking ahead of the Skipper Expo in Aberdeen this weekend, Laurenson said the port authority was again helping sustain and develop the industry with further investment, this time in a £7.6 million replacement white fish market.

With construction by Tulloch Developments Ltd underway this month, the market will double capacity to 1,600 square metres and provide a range of benefits when completed in early 2020.

It follows construction of Mair’s Quay – the location for the market – and Mair’s Pier in recent years, and it is the final component in the regeneration of the port’s Holmsgarth area as a modern hub for the fishing industry.

Laurenson said: “The white fish sector is enjoying a period of robust health, with plentiful stocks, good prices and new fleet investment. Management of stocks in recent years has resulted in increased stocks and the renewed confidence in the sector is heartening.”

Recent figures from the port authority for the three months to March this year showed white fish landed up 7.8 per cent and value increased 13 per cent, compared with the same period in 2017, for an average price of £1,833 per tonne, up 4.1 per cent.

“While the pelagic processing sector remains squeezed in a weak international marketplace, there is also a positive message, with owners investing around £150 million in the Shetland fleet with delivery of five replacement vessels in 2018-19,” Laurenson added.

The vessels will be able to use facilities at Mair’s Pier where capacity, including shore power, is suitable for their increased size.

“While inevitably there will be challenges, not least the resolution of fishing policy post-Brexit, the latest investment by the industry and the Port Authority will help sustain and develop the Shetland sector’s future, harbour activity and the strength of the Shetland economy,” Laurenson said.

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