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Marine / Fish companies to move out to new Mair’s Pier market

LERWICK waterfront institution LHD is among the organisations preparing to move to the town’s new fish market, which is in line to be completed early next year.

The fish selling agency that boasts over 100 years of involvement with the Shetland fishing fleet will re-locate from its Alexandra Buildings base to the £7.5 million Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) development adjacent to the new Mair’s Pier.

Shetland Fish Producer’s Organisation (SFPO), based at Stewart Buildings, 50m from the LHD, will also be relocating to the new market by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

The companies are paying for and will own the first floor offices within the on-schedule building.

The state-of-the-art fish market will double landing capacity and complete a phased development which has included Mair’s Pier and Mair’s Quay, the location for the replacement building. It will also incorporate an upgraded electronic fish selling auction.

LPA chief executive Captain Calum Grains said: “The market’s capacity to include these organisations contributes to our strategy to create a modern hub for the fishing industry at Holmsgarth, increasing co-ordination and co-operation within the sector.

“The development will bring a range of benefits, including in landings and dispatch, enhancing the quality of fish delivered.”

LHD managing director Richie Simpson said that given the huge improvements in the white fish industry in recent years, he was delighted to see the new market taking shape.

He added: “Mair’s Quay and market area will give an ideal location not just for landing fish into a sheltered, modern chilled fish market, but also all the other services needed to keep the whole operation running efficiently.

“Our LHD offices will be relocated above the new market, bringing us much closer and accessible to our fishermen clients.”

SFPO chief executive Brian Isbister said: “We’re delighted to be moving to offices within the new Lerwick fish market, a facility which will both enhance the quality of our members’ produce and provide us with much greater scope to build on the service we provide the local industry.”

In the market, four temperature-controlled bays will extend to 1,600 square metres and there will be more space for palletising fish in a chilled dispatch area. The chilling system will be more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient.

Plans are in place to upgrade the electronic auction system to provide a more versatile online platform for buyers, alongside a new ‘live view’ auction hall built into the design.

Shetland Seafood Auctions manager Martin Leyland said: “The modern equipment and facilities in the new market mean we can ensure high product standards for our buyers and that we can achieve new objectives in quality management.”

In a busy first quarter generally for the port, there were 60,011 boxes of white fish landed, a 1.24 per cent increase on the same period last year, at an average price of £1,830 per tonne.

LPA, meanwhile, is again exhibiting at the Skipper Expo International in Aberdeen on 17 and 18 May.

The show is taking place against a background of strong white fish and pelagic landings, with ongoing investment by the Shetland industry, albeit amidst Brexit uncertainties.

More new pelagic vessels – Adenia, Zephyr and Charisma – are due this summer as part of a £150 million replacement programme over several years.

The port authority recently installed an additional new shore power point at Mair’s Pier to increase availability for the pelagic fleet. A replacement whitefish trawler, Valhalla, recently joined the local fleet.