Shetland is destined for a record year of white fish landings as boats report high levels of stocks around the isles.
The number of boxes sold through the local market’s electronic auction system today passed the 200,000 mark for the year. That is over 30,000 up on the same week in 2012 and more than 20,000 ahead of the equivalent stage of the best year until now, 2008.
It is 10 years this month since the electronic auction operated by Shetland Seafood Auctions Ltd was introduced. Shetland now has the second highest fish landings in the UK after Peterhead.
The average number of boxes landed per week in the isles this year is just under 6,000 – compared with just over 5,000 for the whole of 2012. Cod and haddock are the main species landed, followed by monkfish, saithe and whiting.
Martin Leyland of Shetland Seafood Auctions said: “Fishermen are telling us there is an abundance of fish in the waters around Shetland and that’s reflected in record landings this year since we started the electronic auction back in 2003.
“They have been helped in part by an increase in the quotas for some species. We also continue to see good landings from both the Scottish fleet and the occasional Scandinavian boat.
“With the high cost of fuel and restrictions on days at sea, it makes sense for many non-Shetland boats to land here.
“The quality of fish is very good, and the prices have remained high. It is good for the Shetland economy and for the fishing industry.”
Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Brian Isbister said that both scientists who monitor fish stocks and boats on the grounds are recognising the higher levels of stocks, especially of cod.
“As an industry we need to counter the impression that the sea is all fished out, and these figures speak for themselves,” Mr Isbister said.
“But it’s not just our men who are reporting plentiful stocks – the scientists are doing so as well. We hope the message gets through to the bureaucrats and politicians who control the industry.”
A total of 202,984 boxes have been landed this year. This week’s total was 6,164.