Shetland’s white-fish market has enjoyed its biggest yearly volumes in nearly three decades.
A total of 357,101 boxes have been set down and sold this year as abundant stocks and the extension of the discard ban to more species propels landings to levels not seen since 1987, when 390,000 boxes were traded through the market.
More than 300,000 boxes have been landed in Lerwick and Scalloway in each of the past four years, with this year’s figure easily surpassing the totals of 303,233, 306,837 and 307,870 for 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Shetland Seafood Auctions manager Martin Leyland said: “It has been an extremely busy year, with a large volume of high quality fish and good prices, so the value figures will be up too.
“The electronic auction system has resulted in steady growth in landings since it was introduced in 2003.
“Now that boats and buyers alike are familiar and comfortable with it, we are well-placed to support the industry – especially as we look forward to the construction of the new market at Mair’s Quay and the proposed refurbishment of the Scalloway fish market.”
Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Brian Isbister said: “I can’t remember a time during my career when stocks have been so healthy and quotas have more or less reflected the stocks.
“Confidence is high in the industry and as we have seen again this year that’s leading to investment in the future by crews, whether in new or improved boats or in training.
“It’s vital that this confidence is maintained to sustain the communities around Shetland that are dependent on fishing and the islands economy in general.”
Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said local fishers were united about the way forward, but worried their interests may be traded away as part of the Brexit negotiations.
Mr Collins added: “More than anyone else, fishermen themselves have worked hard to turn their industry into the sustainable entity it is today.
“That needs to be recognised as we dispense with unworkable international management and build a sensible, practical system for the future.”
Shetland is the second biggest port in the UK for white-fish landings after Peterhead, which recently reported a record year.
More fish is landed in Shetland than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.