Six Shetland fishing boats went out after Christmas to catch fish for the first market of the New Year, with the bumper prices this involves.
The traditional lull in fishing over the Christmas period when boats are tied up means a shortage at the markets, with the result that prices are generally higher at New Year than at other times. The first Shetland market is on Tuesday when there will be fresh fish in the shops.
Boats that have gone out this year include the Alison Kay, Ocean Wave, Devotion, Quiet Waters, Prolific and the Whalsay boat Resilient.
All the vessels are believed to be fishing around the coast of Shetland, with three – Alison Kay, Ocean Wave and Resilient – targeting monkfish. The bulk of this catch goes to Spain where prices shoot up over the festive season.
The other boats are fishing for the usual mix of whitefish including haddock, cod and whiting.
A spokesman for fish agents LHD said that the boats are expected to land their catch in Shetland, rather than on the mainland. They have been landing locally at New Year for the last few years as prices are “very competitive”.
In order to go out this week the boats must have quota to use before the quota year ends on 31st December. While the quota for 2011 is known, the number of days at sea the fishing boats will be allowed has not yet been intimated by the Scottish government.
The pelagic quota also finished on 31st December and Shetland’s pelagic boats are expected to start fishing mackerel on Sunday or Monday, possibly on the west coast of Scotland.