The latest major investment by Lerwick Port Authority in the Shetland fishing industry is facilitating third parties in the sector to upgrade their own operations.

The Authority's construction of a £7.6 million replacement white fish market is on schedule for completion by the end of the first quarter 2020. The design was determined after in-depth discussions and refinement with stakeholders.

First floor offices above part of the market will house LHD Limited, who provide fish selling and vessel management services, and Shetland Fish Producers Organisation (SFPO). Both are funding and will own their new accommodation.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “The market’s capacity to include these organisations contributes to our strategy to create a modern hub for the fishing industry at Holmsgarth, increasing co-ordination and co-operation within the sector. The development will bring a range of benefits, including in landings and dispatch, enhancing the quality of fish delivered.”

Richie Simpson, LHD Managing Director, said: “Given huge improvements in the white fish industry in recent years, we are delighted to see the much-needed fish market taking shape.

“Mair’s Quay and market area will give an ideal location not just for landing fish into a sheltered, modern chilled fish market, but also all the other services needed to keep the whole operation running efficiently. Our LHD offices will be relocated above the new market, bringing us much closer and accessible to our fishermen clients.”

Brian Isbister, Chief Executive of the SFPO, said: “We’re delighted to be moving to offices within the new Lerwick fishmarket, a facility which will both enhance the quality of our members' produce and provide us with much greater scope to build on the service we provide the local industry.

"Thanks to Lerwick Port Authority's investment in new quaysides and onshore infrastructure, Mair's Quay and Mair's Pier have become the new hub for the fishing industry within the harbour.

"It is important that we are close to where our members tie up and to our partner organisations and companies, such as Shetland Seafood Auctions and LHD."

The state-of-the-art fish market will double landing capacity and complete a phased development which has included Mair’s Pier and Mair’s Quay, the location for the replacement building.

Four temperature-controlled bays will extend to 1,600 square metres and there will be more space for palletising fish, in a chilled dispatch area. The chilling system will be more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient.

Plans are in place to upgrade the electronic auction system to provide a more versatile online platform for buyers, alongside a new ‘live view’ auction hall built into the design.

Shetland Seafood Auctions’ Manager, Martin Leyland, commented “The modern equipment and facilities in the new market mean we can ensure high product standards for our buyers and that we can achieve new objectives in quality management.”

In a busy first quarter generally for the port, there were 60,011 boxes of white fish landed, a 1.24% increase on the same period, 2018, to average £1,830 per tonne.

The Port Authority is again exhibiting at Skipper Expo International in Aberdeen (17 & 18 May), against a background of strong white fish and pelagic landings, with ongoing investment by the Shetland industry, albeit amidst Brexit uncertainties.

More new pelagic vessels – Adenia, Zephyr and Charisma – are due this summer as part of a £150 million replacement programme over several years. The Authority recently installed an additional new shore power point at Mair’s Pier to increase availability for the pelagic fleet. A replacement whitefish trawler, Valhalla, recently joined the local fleet.

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