The tonnage of white fish landings at Lerwick Harbour increased by more than quarter in the first nine months of this year, with the successful “Land in Shetland” campaign making an important contribution to the rise.

In the period January-September, white fish landings at 5,097 tonnes were up 27% compared to the first three-quarters of 2003, while the value rose by 38% to £5.4 million. The average price per tonne showed an increase of 8.6% to £1,058.

Allan Wishart, Lerwick Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “While Lerwick’s modern facilities and services continue to be a key factor in attracting landings, these have been boosted by the success of the joint ‘Land in Shetland’ campaign by the Port and Shetland Islands Council.

“This has reinforced the importance of Shetland’s strategic location in relation to the shipping grounds, especially when it comes to attracting vessels based in North-east Scotland to land here, enabling them to make best use of their days-at-sea allowance, as well as savings on fuel.”

The number of vessels calling at Lerwick has stabilised this year, following a period of decline caused by quota cuts and decommissioning. “It is significant that the percentage of vessels – both mainland- and locally-based – which are landing at Lerwick has increased and this is a positive sign for the port,” said Mr Wishart.

The electronic auction provided by Shetland Seafood Auctions is continuing to be popular with fishermen and buyers. Established 14 months ago, it operates five days a week. Shetland Seafood Auctions also offers an onshore grading service which is being used by most boats landing higher value species. “These two initiatives are examples of the proactive, successful approach taken within Shetland ports to provide a modern infrastructure for the industry,” said Mr Wishart.

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