Shetland’s whitefish market continued its record-breaking streak by topping the 400,000-box mark in 2017.
A combination of healthy fish stocks, rising quotas and Shetland’s advantages as a landing port propelled landings to 402,997 boxes for the year, well up on the 357,101 boxes in 2016 and over three times the total recorded in 2003, when Shetland introduced its electronic auction system.
Martin Leyland of Shetland Seafood Auctions said: “Importantly, record volumes were matched this year with consistently high prices. This is a reflection of the quality of the fish we present to buyers and smart logistics right through the supply chain.
“The major stocks are in a very healthy condition, and fishermen consistently report back that they haven’t seen such big volumes for a generation or more.
“This is why investments are being made in the new Lerwick fish market and the refurbishment of the Scalloway market.”
Brian Isbister, chief executive of the Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, said: "After having experienced so many difficult years, it tremendous to now see Shetland’s whitefish fishermen being able to look forward to the future with real optimism.
"An incredible amount of effort from all involved with the industry has ensured that we are building a market base that we can depend on. Next year we will be welcoming the new replacement vessel for the Tranquility into the fleet and hopefully she will be followed by more new builds in the years to come.”
Simon Collins, executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said that Shetland was in a strong position to benefit from any additional fishing opportunities obtained after Brexit: “Like other island and coastal communities around the country, we have a great deal to gain from UK control of its own waters and a more reactive and logical management system.”
Shetland is the second biggest port in the UK for whitefish landings after Peterhead. In all, more fish is landed in Shetland than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.