Fish landings in Shetland bucked the national trend last year, according to newly-released figures.
While the weight of landings in 2013 for Scotland as a whole remained static compared to the previous year and their value declined by eight per cent, in the islands weight was up by eight per cent and value by 22 per cent.
A key factor in this success was a substantial increase in whitefish landings, with the markets in Lerwick and Scalloway recording a bumper 300,000 boxes for the year.
The new provisional figures, compiled by Dr Ian Napier at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway from data provided by Marine Scotland, show that whitefish landings in Shetland rose in weight from 14,051 tonnes in 2012 to 16,727 tonnes last year (19 per cent) and in value from £22 million to £25.6 million (16 per cent).
Over the same period pelagic landings in the islands increased in weight from 51,054 to 54,503 tonnes (five per cent) and in value from £34.1 million to £43.9 million (29 per cent). Shellfish landings increased by three per cent in weight and were the same as 2012 in value (£3.5 million).
Martin Leyland of Shetland Seafood Auctions said high quality stocks around the islands fetched good prices throughout the year.
“The stocks are good, boats are landing after shorter trips and our competitive electronic auction – which includes facilities for remote buying – are the factors which lie behind these figures,” he explained.
Brian Isbister, chief executive of Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, said: “Conditions, particularly in the white fish sector, are as good as they have been for many years.
“From the abundance and quality of the fish on the grounds to the prices we are seeing in the markets, it’s a positive picture.
“In this context, it is doubly important that our regulators in Europe and this country both listen to and work along with fishermen to ensure that this entirely sustainable progress is not wiped away with an unworkable discard ban.”