I write this as an open letter to all Shetland Islands Councillors, as information in a statement by Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead in Fraserburgh at the weekend could have a positive impact on the development of the Whalsay harbour project.
A cash windfall worth £18 million from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) benefited 142 projects and created 61 jobs in Fraserburgh between 2008 and 2015, Mr Lochhead said.
Mr Lochhead was highlighting the impact of past funding as he urged fishermen and others to apply for a share of the new European and Maritime Fisheries Fund.
With respect to this information I urge councillors to reconsider their decision to dismiss the Whalsay fish factory project and instead instruct their officials to investigate this pier proposal and the external funding options in more detail.
Perhaps they might review costings by using more realistic harbour construction figures, instead of their “initial ball park internal estimate” of £40 million for a pier with roughly, 300 metres of sheet piling plus rock armoured rubble in Whalsay, when a pier with 800 metres of sheet piling plus rubble infill is presently being built in Lerwick for £16.5 million.
By including this more realistic estimate and the additional European funding information in their calculations, their findings might be different and may prevent the loss of this positive economic opportunity for the people of Shetland.
Fishing and aquaculture are already proven to be the biggest earners for the Shetland economy; both industries would benefit immensely from an enhanced Whalsay harbour.
The inclusion of this proposed fish factory development could put so much more into the economy of Shetland.