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Marine / Fish landings up in 2020 despite pandemic

The new fish market in Lerwick opened last year. Photo: John Coutts

SHETLAND’s prominent position in the UK fishing industry has been reaffirmed with the publication of the latest fish landing figures for 2020.

Published by Shetland UHI, the Shetland Fisheries Statistics 2020 reveal that just over 54,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth some £72 million were landed locally.

That represented an increase in weight from 2019 but a fall in value.

The report compiled by Dr Ian Napier provides a detailed breakdown of fish and shellfish landings in Shetland, and by Shetland fishing boats during 2020.

The report shows that although the weight of pelagic fish (mackerel) landed in Shetland increased by more than one third last year that was partly offset by a substantial fall in landings of whitefish such as cod, saithe and hake.

The decrease in whitefish landings is believed to be primarily a result of the 50 per cent cut in the cod quota in 2020 which affected boats’ ability to catch not just cod but a range of other species too.

The quantity of shellfish landed in Shetland increased slightly in 2020 but their value was substantially less, probably due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Shetland fishing boats landed about 94,000 tonnes of fish during the year (everywhere) with a value of £105 million.

Again, more fish and shellfish was landed in the islands than in any other port in the UK, except Peterhead, with more fish landed in Shetland than in all of England and Wales.

Lerwick, Scalloway and Cullivoe were all in the top 15 UK ports for whitefish landings in 2020.

Overall, the fishing industry appears to have escaped the worst of the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic, the report suggests, with the biggest probable impact on the prices of shellfish.

The full report is available on the Shetland UHI website here.