The doors of the new Scalloway fishmarket have been flung open to allow a sneak preview of the £5.6 million development, just weeks before whitefish landings are expected to begin there.
The new 1,950 square metre premises are more than double the size of the previous fishmarket, offering a total market capacity of over 1,000 boxes.
Owned by Shetland Islands Council, the steel-framed building will be operated in conjunction with industry partners including Shetland Seafood Auctions and fishing vessel agents LHD.
The council are clearly proud of the new development, which is said to have been completed on budget three months early.
Main contractor was Aberdeen-based CHAP group, who also built the Peterhead fishmarket – the largest fishmarket in Europe – while local firm Arch Henderson has provided design and engineering expertise as well.
Port supervisor for Scalloway Harbour Ross Maclennan was on hand on Friday to offer a special tour to the media and council officials.
He said temperature controlled facilities aimed to offer “a much better environment for the fish” once they are landed at the harbour.
“The quality of building we’ve been given in this space of time has been fantastic,” he said.
Designed to be as energy efficient as possible, the building is said to be twice as big as the old market – which was originally built during the 1970s, although later extended – yet promises to use half as much electricity.
Fully-controllable low-energy air-source heat pumps and “passive” chiller units in the ceiling promise to maintain a normal working temperature of between two and five degrees Celsius.
Also included in the building are a transport corridor and chilled compartments as well as staff welfare areas and office space.
Broadband fibre has been connected to the building to allow direct access to the online electronic seafood auction which provides ready access to the marketplace for buyers and sellers.
The new development comes at a time of growing confidence in the sector, with landings said to have significantly increased from around 14,000 boxes in 2004 to over 185,000 last year.
Landings have also increased in value over the same period.
Chairwoman of Shetland Harbour Board Andrea Manson also attended the event.
She said the fishmarket represented a “significant investment” in the fishing sector and for the isles economy as a whole.
“It has been designed to be as energy-efficient as possible and as future-proof as we can foresee.”
The new building is awaiting final food hygiene certification, which is expected to be awarded in time for a spring opening.