Marine / Fishermen concerned over future use of Sullom Voe harbour area

Around 70 tankers are expected to call at Sullom Voe in 2018/19. Photo: John BatesonTanker traffic at Sullom Voe Terminal has degreased significantly over recent years. Photo: John Bateson

SHETLAND Fishermen’s Association has accused the islands’ council to “effectively privatising” large inshore area for development by overseas multinationals

The Sullom Voe harbour area/

In a strongly worded response to an ongoing consultation exercise on the future use of the Sullom Voe harbour area, the body representing local fishermen said Shetland Islands Council has a history of giving away public resources that have now become private assets.

The SIC has launched a consultation exercise in the community on potential development within the harbour limits, which stretches from Brae in the south and well into Yell Sound in the north and east, prior to creating a “Master Plan”.

Up until now no aquaculture developments within the area were permitted, but with the dramatic drop in tanker traffic to the oil terminal, the SIC as planning authority is reviewing this policy with a view to lifting the blanket ban.

It is no secret that the salmon farming industry is keen to expand into some of the voes and inlets that might become available for development.

A number of workshops have been held this week to gauge public opinion.

But the SFA warned that that area was not a blank canvas but “hugely important for fishing of all types, from shellfish to white fish and even pelagic species.”

SFA executive officer Simon Collins said: “The SFA is concerned that the consultation reflects a rush to develop one of the few remaining unspoiled parts of Shetland’s coastal waters.”

“This reflects a pattern seen over many years of the SIC effectively privatising large inshore areas and encouraging development for the benefit of overseas multinationals. Formerly public resources have been given away, over-riding the interests of local users, and have thus become valuable private assets.”

The SIC’s director of infrastructure services John Smith did not respond to the fishermen’s accusation of privatising public resources for private benefit.

He said: “We’re obviously keen to hear the views of everyone as this process develops, and look forward to receiving input from all existing and developing industries in the area, as well as private individuals, who would like to be involved.”