Renewed confidence in the Shetland fishing industry has been underlined by figures showing that the turnover of the local fleet increased by more than 40 per cent last year.
Shetland boats landed more than 134,000 tonnes of fish worth £112 million in 2014. That was up on the 2013 figures of 82,000 tonnes worth £79 million by 64 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
When landings by non-Shetland boats in the isles are included, the total turnover was £155 million.
More fish and shellfish were landed in Shetland in 2014 than any other port in the UK, apart from Peterhead. And more fish (not including shellfish) were landed in the isles than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
Most of the increase can be attributed to increased mackerel landings following quota increases introduced in a bid to end a long-running dispute between the EU and Norway on one hand and Faroe and Iceland on the other.
However, whitefish and shellfish landings by Shetland boats also increased in weight and value, according to the figures compiled by Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway from UK Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland statistics.
Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Brian Isbister said: “We’ve seen a steady improvement in most of the key stocks of fish over the past few years.
“Meanwhile, the constituent parts of the industry in Shetland have been working together to ensure we have modern, fit-for-purpose shoreside facilities and quality control systems in place, as well as a good evidence base about stocks from local scientists.
“These factors help to explain why we are seeing such positive landing figures. There is a confidence back in the industry. You can also see that in the investment that is taking place in modernising the fleet.”
Dr Napier’s full report can be found online.