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Marine / New Opportune joins the local fleet

The Opportune at Blacksness Pier. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News.

A BURRA fishing family last week completed their first trip with a new trawler Beryl, which replaces their old vessel Opportune (LK 209) with the name change still being processed.

Opportune has been sold to other Shetland partners of Avrella Fishing Company and will be re-named Avrella in due course.

Skipper Ross Christie and his father Jim own the 28m long vessel which was bought from Whitehills, near Macduff, and was shot blasted, repainted and had her three Caterpillar engines overhauled and hydraulic pipework renewed at Peterhead before she was taken north.

Ross’s brother Alwyn is mate on the vessel, which was built in 1998 at Astilleros Armon in Spain as Harvest Moon.

Opportune’s crew at work net mending. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News.

The Christies’ cousin George Jamieson is engineer and Tom Robertson is the second skipper. Also in the crew are two men from Ghana and two from the Philippines plus local trainees Jimi Kerwin and Fraser Smith.

Three other overseas fishermen are normally in the crew, but are presently stranded owing to travel restrictions.

Opportune was at sea with 10 crew on her first trip, but will normally operate with seven.

She landed 340 boxes of fish from 10 hauls at Scalloway on Thursday morning after fishing at Flugga.

The vessel means a change of method for the crew, with Opportune twin-rig trawling for high value species like megrim and monkfish, Ross Christie says is a result of the cod quota being slashed this year.

The vessel is rigged for twin-trawling. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News.

He said: “She is a fine boat, as was the old one. We are trying to catch something that we can keep. They slashed the cod quota at Christmas and we are knee deep in green (cod) now.”

Alwyn Christie said that the new Opportune was a “fine big boat. She has a bit of comfort and plenty of room.”

The old Opportune, was refitted three years ago by Macduff Shipyards before joining the local fleet. She is understood to have been fitted for fishing seine net as well as demersal trawling.