Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / A hostile local authority?

The Whalsay dock which was once the site of a hive of industry and a site of an international export business, then a herring station and later a fish factory and net mending business in the old fishing and herring station buildings; it was also the Islands link to the outside world as it was the Islands ferry terminal.

Now all sadly gone, the crumbling structure is now deemed by the SIC to be unsafe; with inadequate barriers erected, in a failed attempt to prevent public access.

This once important part of the Shetland’s economic harbour infrastructure has been eroding for decades, collapsing unabated under the watchful eye of successive SIC officials; its accelerated deterioration in recent years means it will soon be lost forever.

What progress is being made, if any; to refurbish and save this neglected historic structure presently eroding away at an alarming rate?

The rest of this council owned harbour fares little better, with SIC officialdom preventing development of the harbour in recent years; it receives no development by the SIC only neglect, resulting in decades of deterioration.

This appears to show that the SIC no longer supports the outlying fishing communities of Shetland; the development of shore based infrastructure for the fishing industry is apparently now only considered around Lerwick and Scalloway.

After losing jobs when the local fish factory finally closed, many of the Whalsay factory workers sourced various alternative avenues of employment, some sought work on the Shetland mainland while others had to accept early retirement.

However, local investment in a variety of vessels working in the fish farming industry has created much needed additional jobs through the years.

The locally owned fishing fleet has also undergone a period of massive investment, with many new and welcome additions to our islands’ fleet; for established and new partnerships, creating more avenues of employment.

This apparently forgotten fishing harbour is now overcrowded with the addition of SIC ferries and fish farm vessels, and leaves us wondering; is the fishing industry, which has been a mainstay of the Shetland economy for hundreds of years, now considered irrelevant by the SIC?

The SIC’s encouragement of offshore wind farm development around our islands that would exclude our fishing fleet from vast areas of the best fishing grounds in Europe appears to be further evidence of SIC officialdom actively working against our fishing communities.

Residents in Shetland fishing communities have had to risk life and limb for centuries, attempting to make a living from the natural sustainable resources around our shores, while battling for survival in the hostile environment where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

We now find ourselves facing the addition of an apparently hostile local authority working against us, do we have the resilience to survive through the actions of this additional foe; or will they drive us to despair and destruction?

We can only wait and see; but I for one, am not ready to give up the fight for survival just yet.

William Polson