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Marine / Scalloway fish market: a ‘giant fridge’ awaiting the first fish

Councillor Andrea Manson: 'state-of-the-art fish market that will serve the industry for many years'. Photos: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE NEW fish market in Scalloway has been hailed as a giant, state-of the-art fridge that will serve the islands and the fishing industry for decades to come.

The £5.6 million building projects was handed over to owners Shetland Islands Council (SIC) earlier in February after being completed on time and – most likely – below budget by Aberdeen based construction firm CHAP Group.

The new premises, built on the site of the previous fish market but double its size, has a floor space of almost 2,000 square feet and a lay down space in the main auction hall for around 1,000 tiers of fish boxes.

During a tour of the new facility on Friday, the council’s small ports supervisor Ross Maclellan said the building has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible with fully controllable low-energy air source heat pumps and passive chiller units.

“The building is double in size but only uses half the energy of the previous fish market,” he said.

The first whitefish landings are expected either next month or in April, once final food certification is in place.

The SIC, as the harbour authority, decided back in December 2018 to press ahead with building the new fish market despite missing out on an expected contribution of £2.4 million of European funding.

More whitefish is landed in Shetland than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland put together, and half of that amount – 185,000 boxes last year – comes through Scalloway.

With fishermen eager to capitalise on new opportunities, depending on how Brexit negotiations between the UK Government and the European Union progress, there is the potential for a lot more fish being landed from 2021.

Chair of the SIC’s harbour board councillor Andrea Manson said it had been essential to provide new and better infrastructure for the industry. The council will be able to recoup its investment via landing fees.

The £5.6m Scalloway fish market was built on the site of the previous fish market.

“The old building struggled to meet all the current legislation, such as health and safety and environmental health. This now gives Scalloway a state-of-the-art fish market that will serve the industry for many years,” Manson said.

She described the building as “future-proof” as it had been built with the “very best materials” available.

“Fish landings in Shetland have grown significantly over the last years and I hope to see that continuing into the future,” she said.

“Providing facilities like this will encourage fishermen to come and land their fish here. They will know that this is a state-of-the-art facility and buyers will know that they get the best possible product from here.

“This has been built to last, so basically this is a giant fridge build with the very best possible materials. I look forward  to seeing the first fish landings soon.”

Now that broadband has been installed in the building buyers will have direct online access to the market via Shetland Seafood Auctions.

The completion of the Scalloway market is slightly ahead of a similar project on the east side of Shetland where Tulloch Developments is building a new fish market for Lerwick Port Authority at Mair’s Quay.

Manson acknowledged that increased fish landings has the potential to further exacerbate the transport bottleneck between Shetland and the Scottish mainland, and added that the significance of Shetland’s two fish markets underlined the need for a dedicated cargo vessel for the islands.

“If the market becomes even more popular and there is more fish landed, then we can go to the government and call for more cargo ships,” she said.

“We should have a dedicated cargo vessel that leaves here every day anyhow – particularly on days when fish is being landed.”