The Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) is calling for the government to provide temporary support to the fishing industry, warning the fleet faces “tie-ups and job losses” as vessels are crippled by rising fuel costs.
The cost of marine diesel in the isles has more than doubled in the last year, the SFA said, due to conflict in Ukraine – making fishing trips “uneconomical”.
It said nearly 50,000 tonnes of fresh fish and shellfish were landed in Shetland last year, with global supply chains likely to be hit if boats tied up.
“It’s almost a forgotten fact that fishing crews help to feed the nation,” said SFA chairman James Anderson (skipper of Alison Kay, LK57).
“Every household and industry across the UK is feeling the strain of rapidly rising fuel bills, but our governments need to be aware that boats have been struggling – and that we can’t keep fishing for long in the current climate.
“Already in Shetland we’ve seen crews forced to consider tying up, taking wage cuts, or being let go altogether until vessels become viable again.
“That won’t happen soon without a show of support for our industry, as other countries have chosen to do.”
The French, Spanish and Irish governments are expected to introduce measures to keep fishing boats at sea, and the SFA is calling on the UK government to do the same.
“While Shetland boats struggle on, they see governments elsewhere take action to help an industry that is clearly valued,” said SFA executive officer Daniel Lawson.
“The knock-on effects of Shetland’s fishing fleet being forced to tie up would be a hammer blow to the economy of our islands, the wider supply chain, and to the nation’s entire food supply”.