Shetland succeeded in increasing its fish landings last year while they fell across the country as a whole, according to new figures.
Prices were also higher in the islands, reflecting the high quality of fish being caught in the North Sea and sold through the markets in Lerwick and Scalloway.
Total landings in Shetland rose 10 per cent by volume and 24 per cent by value while falling in Peterhead (14 per cent by volume, 12 per cent by value), the whole of Scotland (five per cent and five per cent) and the UK (five per cent and seven per cent), figures compiled by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre show.
Shetland accounted for just under a quarter of the weight and almost a fifth of the value of all fish landed in Scotland. More fish was landed in the islands than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
While pelagic stocks – mackerel and herring – dominated, a key factor in the figures was the bumper 300,000 boxes of whitefish set down on the quaysides, a record since at least 1990, when detailed data began to be collected.
Brian Isbister, chief executive of Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, said continued investment in the fleet and shoreside facilities such as the electronic auction combined with a partnership approach to ensuring a strong future for the industry was paying dividends.
“Community-based organisations such as Shetland Seafood Quality Control, which has helped dramatically to increase the quality of fish landed by boats in Shetland, and the NAFC Marine Centre, which underpins the industry in the islands, have all contributed to this success,” he said.
“It’s great to see the industry going in this direction and I hope the various partners can continue to work together to build on the good work done so far.”
More than 16,500 tonnes of whitefish – mainly cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, monkfish, ling and megrim – worth £25 million were landed.
The overall weight of whitefish was up 19 per cent on 2012, while the value increased by 17 per cent, with haddock the single biggest riser.
The average market price of whitefish in Shetland was £1.51 per kg compared to £1.28 per kg in Peterhead and £1.47 for Scotland as a whole.
On the pelagic side, 55,300 tonnes of fish worth £44.4 million were landed in Shetland.
Mackerel accounted for 79 per cent of the weight and 90 per cent of the value of these landings, herring and horse mackerel being the only other species landed.
See the full report here.