Representing & Supporting Shetland’s Fishermen

Quality Assurance

Shetland Fish Markets

2020 Shetland saw the opening of two new, modern multi-million pound fish markets. The Lerwick fish market is located on the east side of Shetland while the Scalloway fish market is on the west. These markets are perfectly located to attract vessels with the freshest of fish from the rich and diverse fishing grounds in the waters around the Islands. Details of week day landing can be view here. Both markets are significant investments for their owners and demonstrate the commitment to the growth and development of the fishing industry in Shetland.

Commitment to Quality

Whilst quality of seafood from Shetland has been at the heart of Shetland’s fishing industry for decades the impetus to improve things further coincided with the opening of the new, passively chilled fish markets.

A co-operative approach from all the markets users saw the establishment of the Market Users Management Team (MUMT) and the introduction of the essential Quality Assurance Management System (QAMS). The implementation, monitoring, verification and enforcement of QAMS is conducted by a qualified independent company.

White Fish Quality Improvement

The use of Shetland Seafood Quality Control ensures, and enhances, Shetland’s reputation for high quality produce. Under the White Fish Quality Improvement Scheme, fish landed at Shetland’s markets are regularly inspected against a series of quality indicators. These results are analysed and used to assess the quality of the fish landed. This information is relayed back to each fishing vessel to ensure continuous improvement. Information on quality is also displayed at the markets for the benefit of the buyers. The scheme encourages the fishermen to realise the importance of good product handling practises and bringing their catches to market at the peak of freshness.

Fish Size Grading

Fishermen recognise the importance of size grading the different species. It is not possible for all boats to be able to grade all species onboard and therefore Shetland Seafood Auctions (SSA) provide a weighing and grading service.

The grading table provides an approximate guide to grading by Shetland registered boats for the various species.

Sample weight checks are also carried out as part of government regulations, whereby 6% of all species landed is weighed and recorded. Both weighing and grading and sample weighing give buyers confidence when making their purchases.


The main function of the Marine Stewardship Council is to establish the required standard to be met for sustainable fishing. It is an independent non-profit organization which assess how well fisheries are being managed and sustained compared to the MSC standards.

Investment by SSA in a new web-based electronic auction system has provided a more versatile online system for buyers, with a ‘live view’ auction hall. Fish from Shetland can be bought throughout the world electronically.

Currently all haddock, saithe, plaice and hake sold is MSC certified, unless stated otherwise stated at the time of purchase.

Composition of Landings to Shetland Fish Markets

About 24,000 tonnes of whitefish, worth some £52million were landing in Shetland in 2019. Cod was by far the principal whitefish species at 5,630 tonnes. Other species include monkfish, hake, haddock, whiting, saithe, megrim, ling, lemon sole and plaice. Or further information refer to Shetland Fisheries Statistics 2019.

Shellfish from Shetland

Shetland has a Regulating Order in place which grants the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation the legal right to manage shellfish fisheries within the area between the low water mark and the six-mile limit around Shetland.

To ensure sustainability a series of management measures have been introduced such as creel limits, escape gaps and closures to protect seabed habitats and stocks.

The Shetland inshore (0-6nm) brown crab and scallop fishery is MSC-certified, the only MSC-certified scallop fishery in the North East Atlantic.

Just over 2,000 tonnes of shellfish worth £6 million were landed in Shetland in 2019. These landings composed 1,099 tonnes of scallops, 493 tonnes of brown crab, 46 tonne of lobster, 158 tonnes of velvet crabs, 270 tonnes of whelks (buckies) and 9 tonne of other species.

Buying Fish and Shellfish From Shetland

Check our links page to find a list of fish buyers based in Shetland. You can also buy fish direct from the Shetland fish markets via the electronic auction. Contact SSA to find out more information.