THE importance of the Shetland fishing industry has been underlined by new figures showing that the turnover of the local fleet increased by more than 40 per cent last year.
Shetland boats landed more than 134,000 tonnes of fish, worth £112 million, in 2014.
That was up on the 2013 figures of 82,000 tonnes, worth £79 million, by 64 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
When landings by non-Shetland boats in the isles are included, the total turnover was £155 million.
More fish and shellfish were landed in Shetland in 2014 than in any other port in the UK, apart from Peterhead.
And more fish (not including shellfish) were landed in the isles than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
Most of the increase in landings can be attributed to increased mackerel landings following quota increases introduced formally to end the dispute between the EU-Norway and Faroe and Iceland.
However, whitefish and shellfish landings by Shetland boats also increased in weight and value, according to the figures compiled by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway from UK Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland statistics.
Brian Isbister, chief executive of Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, said: ‘We’ve seen a steady improvement in most of the key stocks of fish over the past few years.
‘Meanwhile, the constituent parts of the industry in Shetland have been working together to ensure we have modern, fit-for-purpose shoreside facilities and quality control systems in place, as well as a good evidence base about stocks from local scientists.
‘These factors help to explain why we are seeing such positive landing figures. There is a confidence back in the industry. You can also see that in the investment that is taking place in modernising the fleet.’
Dr Napier’s full report can be seen here http://www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/research/publications/fish-stats/fish-stats