Despite the UK’s often-fraught Brexit negotiations, 2018 is getting off to a good start in the Shetland Isles, with the two primary industries, fishing and oil and gas, both looking strong – the latter thanks to continuing global interest in the West of Shetland arena.
While oil and gas activity through the Port of Sullom Voe continues to be the Council’s major revenue earner, John Smith, Executive Manager at Shetland Council’s Marine Services, points out that everyone is delighted by the fact that Cullivoe Harbour has been shortlisted in the “Best Fishing Port” category in the 2018 Fishing News Awards. The winning port is due to be announced in Aberdeen on Thursday 24 May.
“Cullivoe has seen increasingly heavy landings of white fish over the last few years,” Smith comments. It is the closest designated landing port to the rich fishing grounds to the north of Shetland. There has been significant investment in the Port in recent years, leading to a new ice plant and up to 250 metres of sheltered berthing for vessels with a draft of six metres or less.
“Thanks to the ice plant, vessels can stock up with ice at the harbour, plus there are fueling facilities. This means that vessels can be replenished, turned around and heading back to the fishing grounds with very little delay,” Smith notes.
Fish landings at the harbour have more than doubled in the last few years. In 2015, landings of demersal fish amounted to £2.6 million. Last year they increased to over £5.8 million.
“We have seen a terrific payback in terms of increased fish landings for a relatively modest investment,” Smith says. “Cullivoe is now among the top ten landing ports in the UK. It has good transport links to mainland Shetland and to the fish markets at Scalloway and Lerwick,” he comments.
Shetland has seen increased landings of white fish, in particular Cullivoe, which has been shortlisted for an award
The port also benefits from some lay down areas for equipment assembly and maintenance for the renewables sector and serves as a base for salmon farming activities in the area.
Commenting on the shortlisting, Andrea Manson, Chair of the Harbour Board of the Shetland Islands Council expressed the Council’s delight that the harbour has been recognised as an example of best practice within the fishing industry.
“Our investment in the port, and the support of the local fishing fleet and the North Yell community has helped the harbour to flourish,” she comments.
The Council has invested some £3 million in redeveloping Cullivoe harbour, including building a new breakwater and added reclaimed quay space for net mending, plus dredging the port to a minimum depth of
There is also a new fish market being built at Scalloway, which is likely to be in excess of 700 square metres. Scalloway fish market dealt with some 200,000 boxes of fish in 2017.
Four local fishermen are also shortlisted in individual categories. Ivan Garriock, was shortlisted for the Demersal Fisherman of the Year award, while Davie Hutchison is contesting the Pelagic Fisherman of the Year.
Lee Odie, from the NAFC Marine Centre made the shortlist for Trainee Fisherman of the Year while Ben Irvine, is in the running for Young Fisherman of the Year.
“Since the Brexit vote and the negotiations, fishing has been much more high profile in the news and we continue to hear a range of comment as to what the final position is likely to be. What is clear is that if you look at Iceland, for example, some 95% of the fish caught in Icelandic waters are landed in Iceland. Only 40% of fish caught in UK waters are landed in the UK, so there is clearly plenty of scope to redress the balance,” Smith says.
Smith points out that the increased landings in the last few years have given rise to a widespread feeling among the fishing community that the richer fish stocks are moving further north, which plays very well for the local Shetland fleet.
UK ministers, he points out, have already said that Britain will neither gain fishing quota nor lose any in the run up to the final “divorce” agreement. However, it remains unclear exactly what the framework will be for fishing in the UK post-Brexit and that uncertainty continues to be troubling for the sector, Smith says.
Oil and gas activity may still be somewhat subdued across the rest of the North Sea, but the outlook for the Shetland Isles and the Port of Sullom Voe remains very positive, Smith says.
In December, EnQuest took over the running of the oil and gas terminal at the Port from BP and it is now among the largest UK oil producers in the northern North Sea,” he comments.
The terminal is handling some 70,000 to 80,000 barrels a day. Enquest has said that it believes it can both increase production and keep the terminal running through to at least 2030 and probably for some time thereafter.
Source: www.heraldscotland.com, 29 March 2018