Views from the Scord 05.06.09

Harbour news

A week of highs and lows in Scalloway Harbour, with little activity from large shipping but a particularly busy fishmarket, tinged with a distinct disdain for the politics of the industry as much of the fish landed failed to sell or yield a reasonable price.

Workboat activity in the harbour was fairly low. The Ronja Settler continues to deliver salmon to the factory at Blacksness. The intriguing workboat FOB Jr was fairly active during the week, departing the harbour on a number of occasions, usually at night, to return the following day, the highly favourable weather apparently allowing her to operate her subsea equipment.

The Orcadian shellfish workboat Kingfisher arrived in the harbour for slippage at Malakoff and Moore’s for maintenance. She departed again within the week.

Another Orcadian, the 410gt tug vessel Erlend came north at the weekend to tow away the salmon feed barge which had been berthed alongside the east jetty for a period of several months. The tug and barge combination departed the harbour soon after the Erlend’s arrival, bound for Orkney.

The pair trawlers Arcturus and Fear Not, both from Inverness, were alongside for around an hour as an electrical fault was repaired on the former before they departed to commence fishing in the area.

The Wick registered Opportune called in last Sunday to land their catch to the Scalloway market for sale on Monday.

During the previous week the total landings through the Scalloway fish market amounted to a near record total of 2,932 boxes. This total was, however, highly misrepresentative of any success in the industry during the period as a complex combination the bank holiday on the mainland, a glut of imported fish from Iceland and a lack of funds in a mainland producers’ organisation devalued UK fish landings to the extent that around 1,000 boxes of fish failed to reach minimum prices locally during the week, the unsold fish being dyed and sent for fishmeal.

Almost 800 boxes of fish were dumped from a single market with most of the affected fish species being ling, coalies or whiting. Local boats are reimbursed at a minimal rate from the local producers’ organisation but lose days at sea and quota for this minimal return. This period of instability continued into Monday this week with further landings being consigned for fishmeal.

Industry sources voiced their outrage at the madness of the current incomprehensible system of fishing restrictions and politics that have led to a situation whereby local boats are regularly having to dump cod at sea due to the lack of quota, while now landings of other species that would also normally yield a high financial return are failing to reach minimum price and are destined for the fishmeal plant.

Boats whose landings went through the Scalloway market in the week to Friday were the Devotion, Radiant Star, Alison Kay, Faithful, Venture, Guardian Angell, Gunners Glory, Tranquility and Venturous, with the highest single landings coming from the Guardian Angell with 588 boxes and Alison Kay with 564 boxes.

Scalloway anglers

A round up of some of the recent angling competitions held by the Scalloway Boating Club Angling section are as follows.

The Garriock Two Day competition held on 15th May was won by Jimmy Reid with 82.4lb, with Robert Duthie coming in second with a lesser 54.2lb, which was still an admirable achievement given that he only fished one day of the two day competition. Tommy Tyler was third with 30.8lbs. The best junior was Scott Sandison with 32.1lb that would have placed him third in the adult competition. Katherine Fullerton was the only female competitor, taking 18lbs on the day. The biggest fish for the competition was taken by Robert Duthie with an 8.8lb cod.

The All Species and Skate and Shark competition held on 23rd May attracted a good turnout of anglers and was won by Raymond Laurenson with a mighty 97.4lb, pipping Robert Duthie’s 97.2lb at the post. Laurence Williamson took a comparably sizeable catch, landing 95.4lb to take the third spot.

The best junior was Scott Sandison with 32.4lb and best female was Brenda Laurenson with 32.2 lb. The biggest fish on the day was taken by Laurence Williamson with a 9.2lb ling. Raymond’s win was not appreciated by Tammie Johnson, who shared the same boat with him but only managed a humble ninth place and was said to be green around the gills all day from watching Raymond’s successes.

The second monthly competition was held last weekend in spectacularly good weather in which all the anglers caught the sun in abundance, with some suffering as a consequence and others sporting the panda-face caused by a long day on the water wearing sunglasses throughout.

The weather was not conducive to good fishing though as the light winds provided little drift over the fishing grounds, resulting in a lower than average catch. The winning catch was still a healthy 67.6lbs taken by Robert Duthie, beating Howard Foster and his 63lbs. Third place was declared a draw between Raymond Laurenson and Tommy Tyler with both taking 62.6lbs. Among fish taken by Tommy was a fine specimen of a lesser spotted dogfish, weighing in at 2.8lb which is not far off the Shetland record.

Burra and Trondra community council

The May meeting of the Burra and Trondra community council took place on Monday night. In attendance by invitation were the new head of infrastructure services Gordon Greenhill and Jan Riise and Alan Rolfe of legal services.

Mr Greenhill was present to discuss the enduring challenges of the community council regarding roads, with a hint of skip management thrown in for good measure. The community council found Mr Greenhill to be co-operative and informative and it was hoped that he left with a greater understanding of issues relevant to the area.

Mr Riise was submitted to a thorough grilling in his capacity as a representative of legal services, sandwiched between members Bobby Hunter and Adalene Fullerton. The pertinent issue of the day was the ongoing trials of Burra residents attempting to buy land from their landlord, the Shetland Islands Council, and the notoriously protracted process this involves.

According to Mr Riise the length of time that is incurred in this is largely attributed to the individual’s legal representatives and the involvement of grazing committees and various other bodies. The legal services department have endeavoured to streamline this process through the publication of an information leaflet, the subject of a public consultation via the community council.

It is hoped that through the issuing of this leaflet in its approved form the whole process of land purchase in Burra can be both rationalised and speeded-up, although individuals attempting to purchase land in the estate should be under no illusions that this process will still take months rather than weeks.

Burra History Group

The Burra History Group will be opening the croft house visitor centre at Easthouse this Sunday. The venue is open from 2-6pm for visitors and in addition to the regular vast selection of historical photographs relating to Burra and its occupants there will be a main display centred around “craft through the ages” and craft items from the area.

Mark Burgess


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