Disappointment has been voiced after a new Transport Scotland “Stag” study was released ahead of last week’s visit to the isles by transport minister Humza Yousaf.
Transport operators and seafood bodies say the findings, which recommend 7pm departures every night and fewer Orkney stops, still fails to properly recognise Shetland’s freight needs.
Ruth Henderson, chief executive of Seafood Shetland, said: “We are disappointed that the report does not take account of freight – a fundamental component of the North Isles service – and one which is set to change significantly in the very near future.
“It is clear that, despite our best efforts, Transport Scotland lacks both an understanding of the current freight requirements and the vision to accommodate the boost in freight activity that is set to take place over the coming months and years.
“We are already experiencing a capacity issue on vessels departing on certain nights of the week. As a result, we have serious concerns that, as our seafood sector continues to thrive and grow, and the new fish markets come online, we will be seriously inhibited by a service that is not evolving to meet Shetland’s needs.
“We very much hope that we can rely on the assurances provided by the minister on Friday, that the cracks in the current operation will be addressed.
“It is our feeling that a nightly freight service will be required in the very near future, and we look to Transport Scotland to make provision for that additional capacity within the lifeline contract.”