Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  11 May 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

Aberdeen Harbour urges radical rethink on fishing industry
Quotas and decommissioning mean new approach needed in Aberdeen

Aberdeen Harbour Board are urging all involved in the fishing industry in Aberdeen to work together to ensure that the sector is fit-for-purpose in the 21 st century.

Colin Parker, the Board’s Chief Executive, said: “Despite some optimism over future landings, the rapid decline in recent years as a result of quotas and vessel decommissioning is a serious concern which calls for a radical rethink on how the industry operates.”

The tonnage of white fish landed and consigned at Aberdeen dropped 59% between 2002 and 2006, while the number of processors in the Aberdeen Harbour area fell from 48 to 26 in the same period.

White fishing landings in the first quarter of this year were 71.7% less than the corresponding period in 2006.

“There has, however, been no reduction in the number of fish markets in the North-east of Scotland ,” explained Mr Parker. “In recent years, Aberdeen Harbour Board have invested almost £5 million in improvements of the facilities provided for the fishing sector in order to attract higher landings across the market floor.

“Regrettably, the fish are now mainly being caught in more northerly waters and, to save on sailing time and fuel costs, skippers are understandably opting to land away from Aberdeen . The decline in white fish landings at Aberdeen has also been influenced by the fact that many fishing vessel crews live closer to the ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh.”

Following an independent review commissioned by the Board into the fish market operation and the viability of any future development, the Board have concluded that the market on Palmerston Quay should continue in its current role, subject to future landings being at a sustainable level.

Due to current poor levels and uncertainty over predicted landings, the Board also decided not to construct a purpose-built facility at the quayside for landings, cold storage and transhipment of fish, at an estimated cost of £3.5 million.

To meet ongoing requirements for open quay space in support of fishing and other users, the remaining section of the Commercial Quay fish market is to be removed and the quayside resurfaced.

Following a meeting with industry representatives in Aberdeen today, Colin Parker said: “The Board remain committed to helping guarantee a future for the industry in Aberdeen and encourage it to consider providing a fit-for-purpose refrigerated facility for white fish in the city.

“Large quantities of white fish are currently delivered to the port via the daily NorthLink ferry from Shetland where Lerwick has seen a 26% increase in the tonnage of fish landed during the first quarter of 2007, and so this supply is likely to continue.

“There is potential benefit in locating such a facility near good road links to provide the area’s fishing sector with a full range of shared facilities, meeting the demands of a 21 st century food industry.

“A centralised, modern facility, similar to those established on the Continent, could include product weighing and grading, an electronic auction, long and short term temperature controlled storage, adequate refrigerated trailer parking, and staff welfare and administration, with all the advantages that combination would bring.”


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