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Business / Seafood auction company upbeat after growth in annual whitefish landings

Lerwick fish market. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND’s fish auction company says it is confident that the upwards trend in fish being sold through the Scalloway and Lerwick markets will continue in the years ahead.

Just under 390,000 boxes of whitefish were sold through Shetland Seafood Auctions (SSA) in 2023, a marked increase on previous years.

Company manager Martin Leyland said on Monday that recent increases in quotas for most fish landed in Shetland should result in further growth in landings in 2024.

Earlier this month the company announced it was successful in attracting funding from HIE towards weighing and grading equipment which would result in better a better sales service provided by SSA.

The investment, based on a five-year ambition plan which foresees continuous growth, will also lead to four new jobs being created at the two fish markets.

Leyland said: “This plan forecasts year on year growth in fish landings, utilising the capacity of the new fish markets, and requiring additional equipment to continue to provide the onshore services the company offers to the fishing boats over a 24-hour period daily.”

He added: “Comparing this year to previous years back to 2003 when the electronic auction was introduced, it is the fourth highest year with only 2017 to 2019 recording higher landings.

“More importantly, it is a big improvement on the years 2020 to 2022 which were affected by Covid, Brexit and quota cuts.

“The new fish markets with their increased capacity were opened in August 2020, and it is good to see growth in landings of between 14 to 18 per cent this year compared to 2020 to 2022.”

Leyland added that the positive trend needed to be fed into the Scottish Government’s business case for new freight ferries to ensure the fish can be transported to customers, consistently, reliably and “most importantly” on time.

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