Increase in value of landings at Lerwick.The “Land in Shetland” campaign will be given further impetus at the Fishing 2005 exhibition, 12 months after its successful launch by Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Islands Council at last year’s event.

The promotion, aimed at the white fish sector, highlights the importance of Shetland’s strategic location in relation to the fishing grounds, with the proximity enabling boats – including those based in North-east Scotland - to make best use of the days-at-sea allowance, as well as savings on fuel, by taking catches to Shetland.

The campaign, along with the continuing modernisation of facilities, has contributed to attracting landings and higher prices at Lerwick. In 2004, all landings totalled almost 109,000 tonnes, valued at £36.6 million – up 5% by volume and 22% by value on 2003.

The latest figures show the value of all landings in the first quarter of this year up by 56% at around £23 million, compared to £14.7 million, with pelagic fish the biggest contributor, followed by white fish, industrial fish and shellfish. The largest volume landed during the period was pelagic fish at Shetland Catch, followed by Blue Whiting at Shetland Fish Products, on Bressay.

The 12% increase in white fish prices was influenced by the positive use of the electronic auction provided by Shetland Seafood Auctions which continues to be popular with fishermen and buyers, while pelagic prices also rose substantially.

Shetland Seafood Auctions also offer an onshore grading service, used by most boats landing higher value species.

Recent improvements at the port have included modification of a section of quayface at Holmsgarth jetty - predominantly used by pelagic vessels – and at Holmsgarth Berth No 1, used by white fish vessels, to prevent snagging when nets are brought ashore.

Certain areas at the north end of the harbour are to be deepened this summer to up to 10 metres to better accommodate the larger pelagic vessels using the port.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Allan Wishart, said: “We’re encouraged by the response to the campaign and by the higher values being achieved. Fishing 2005 is another important opportunity to raise industry awareness of the advantages of landing in Shetland and to focus on the ongoing improvements in facilities at Lerwick.”

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