Lerwick Port Authority is ready to move full steam ahead with building a new quay designed to house a modern whitefish market at Mair’s Yard in the north of Lerwick, having received just shy of £1 million in European funding.
Two separate European Fisheries Fund (EFF) grants totalling £965,283 will go towards the initial £3.17 million quay project.
It will see 1.45 hectares of seabed reclaimed in the area just in front of the J Burgess Garage, between Lerwick Power Station and the Holmsgarth jetty. The quay is to be 151 metres long and six metres deep, providing deeper berthing and added lay down area for the fishing fleet.
Attention will now turn to designs for a new fish market, the upshot of which will be another, separate seven-figure capital project. The structure is likely to be of similar length to the existing fish market at Laurenson Quay, built in 1975 and most recently extended in 1993.
It comes at a busy time for the LPA, hot on the heels of it being awarded £10 million by the Scottish government towards building an oil rig decommissioning base at Dales Voe.
The project to build a new fish market has been in the offing for some time. LPA chief executive Sandra Laurenson said the board had sought and received tender prices in late 2010, but held off awarding the quay contract until it learned whether it would get EFF cash.
With trustees due to meet next Tuesday to award the contract, Ms Laurenson hopes work can get underway later this year and be completed by mid-2013.
The LPA had been unsuccessful in its application for a slice of an earlier funding tranche, but is to get nearly a third of the EFF money being doled out this month. Other fishing and marine companies in Shetland are also getting combined grants worth nearly half a million pounds.
“We’re really pleased we’ve got the funding and are able to move on with it,” Ms Laurenson said. “Obviously we hoped to get the award in the last round of EFF, but better late than never and I know the folk that use the market will be absolutely delighted to know we’re able to move on and look to getting a bigger, better market.”
The market’s layout may be different in order to take account of new handling techniques. Shetland Seafood Auctions will continue handling the weighing and grading of fish, while LHD will still operate the daily auctions.
A successor to the EFF – the European Marine & Fisheries Fund – is being established. Ms Laurenson said the LPA would look at whether further assistance might be possible.
“The next task is to design and procure a fish market building,” she said. “We’ll see what the objectives are for the new fund, to see if there’s any opportunity for funding in it.”
Three fish farming businesses in the islands are among those benefiting from the latest round of EFF cash.
Walls-based A&C Tait Ltd has been given £91,633 towards a £300,000 mussel farm development. Sandsound Mussels gets £23,499 to help with its conversion to a “continuous rope cultivation system”. Organic salmon farming firm Balta Island Seafare is getting £28,406 to help deter seal attacks and reduce the quantity of fish escaping from its farms.
Several Shetland fishing boats are to receive smaller grants: £19,200 will go to the Defiant, towards new fish gutting, washing and handling machinery; £8,270 has been earmarked for improvements to the Arcturus; £3,737 goes to the Kathleen to replace its main deck; and £1,293 for the Venturous to supply and install an AIS vessel positioning system.
Aurora Marine is getting £223,500 towards a new salmon net cleaning business, which will allow the nets to be cleaned on sea sites. In February the company, owned by Neil Garrick, Colin Leask, Lynsey Garrick and Valerie Leask, received a £37,250 grant and £372,500 loan from the SIC towards the same project. It is aiming to employ six people as part of the venture.
Argyll & Bute-based company Otter Ferry Seafish Ltd has been handed £174,000 towards putting in place sea lice control measures in the outer isles and Shetland.