FISH landings in Shetland in 2015 were higher than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, according to new figures.
And more fish was landed in the islands than in any UK port apart from Peterhead, the provisional statistics compiled by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre UHI reveal.
Shetland fishing boats accounted for more than a fifth (22 per cent) of all landings by UK boats in 2015.
The figures confirm how important fish catching is to Shetland and just how significant Shetland is to the UK fishing industry.
With stocks having recovered markedly in the past few years after a difficult period, this traditional industry has a very bright future.
Dr Napier’s statistics, derived from UK Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation (SFPO) data, highlight that 73,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth £60 million were landed in Shetland in 2015 by local and visiting boats.
When landings by Shetland boats elsewhere – mainly pelagic vessels – are added, the estimated total of ‘Shetland’ landings was almost 155,000 tonnes worth £106 million.
The weight and turnover of whitefish laid down on quays in Lerwick (pictured), Scalloway and other parts of the islands fell slightly to just under 16,000 tonnes and £26 million.
Cod overtook haddock as the most landed whitefish species by weight and value, and there were big increases in landings of plaice, lemon sole, monkfish and hake.
Pelagic landings in Shetland, worth around £31 million, continued to be dominated by mackerel, which accounted for 76 per cent by weight and 84 per cent by value.
Shellfish landings, at 1,800 tonnes worth £3.6 million, were slightly lower than in 2014 (five per cent by value and seven per cent by weight).
Dr Napier said: ‘These are provisional figures based on currently available data, but they demonstrate that the fishing industry continues to be a hugely significant contributor to the local economy.
‘Equally, the landings in Shetland by local and visiting boats demonstrate that Shetland is a major component of the UK fishing industry.’