Tag Archives: Shetland

From salt cod to silver darlings, how Shetland became a fishing powerhouse

It was Monday, 16 July, 1832, and for the fishermen on the east side of Shetland, the idyllic summer scene, one of the most beautiful mornings of the summer so far meant conditions were perfect for heading for the open sea, on the hunt for cod. Barely eaten by Scots today, dried, salted fish was once a staple part of the national diet and a massive export business, demand was at a peak from Spain and Portugal. What the fishermen on Shetland’s east coast did not realise on that July day, however, was a heavy Atlantic swell had formed to the west – often an ominous sign of a severe storm on the way. The storm raged for five days, putting the entire fleet in jeopardy and picking off one sixern after the next. >click to read< 10:33

Berried lobster catches could force ban on fishermen

Shetland will enforce Scotland’s first ban on landing egg-bearing lobsters in a conservation move driven by local fishermen. The new regulation agreed by the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation outlaws the practice of boats keeping so-called berried lobsters, which carry many thousands of eggs. SSMO say that preventing the removal of these lobsters will help protect the spawning stock needed for a sustainable fishery. SSMO inshore co-ordinator John Robertson said: “This ban is seen by many fishermen as a positive way they can boost stocks in the absence of a lobster hatchery in Shetland. “It was the fishermen who called for the ban and they backed it in a vote conducted last year by the SSMO. >click to read< 13:10

Shetland fishing industry ‘flung by the wayside’ for offshore wind farms

Addressing a session during the parliamentary Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum policy conference, Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Daniel Lawson said his industry had “big concerns” over the UK’s plans for renewables off the islands. “All of the things we saw with the onset of oil, protection, partnership, working consideration, consultation, compensation, they’ve all been largely abandoned so far in this rush towards offshore wind development,” he told delegates. Mr Lawson said the organisation, which represents 115 member vessels, was dismayed by news of the latest round of offshore wind licensing as part of the Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind clearing process. >click to read< 09:55

UK fishing minister in Shetland aims for post-Brexit opportunities in 2026

UK fishing minister Victoria Prentis said she has listened carefully to what fishermen and industry leaders have told her about one of the islands’ key industries. Following a two day visit to Shetland during which she was lobbied by salmon farmers and fishermen, Prentis and her team were left in no doubt of the significance the seafood industries play in the wellbeing of the isles. She acknowledged that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations wasn’t what fishermen had been promised and said that preparatory work for follow-up negotiations with the EU for the period beyond 2026 were already under way. “We have already started the long and detailed work starting to talk to the industry to make sure that when we arrive at the negotiations, we know exactly what we want and what we are asking for, and this visit is very much part of that preparatory work,” she said. >click to read< 17:54

Maggie Helen gets a new lease of life

A former fishing boat is returning to the water after being taken over by an enthusiast team of skilled shipwrights and sailors who intend to use her to sail around Europe. They are planning to set sail later this week. The Maggie Helen had been sitting in storage since 2007 after the historic vessel, then known as Loki, had been bought by Shetland Amenity Trust for an undisclosed sum and in somewhat controversial circumstances. Shetland Museum curator Ian Tait said the restoration team have managed to complete “three years” work in three months after working non-stop seven days a week from around 8am to 11pm. “It’s an immense number of working hours that have gone into it. They’ve done the most unbelievably intense job,” he said. >click to read< 15:28

Young fishing crews call for urgent government help to tackle rising fuel costs

Fuel is at almost three times the price it was last year, and Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) has warned the whitefish sector is in particular danger of failing. F/V Defiant skipper Robbie Jamieson, 25, said the cost of fuel “has become crippling”. He bought the boat last year with the rest of his shareholder crew, all of whom are under the age of 30. Mr Jamieson said along with the rising cost of fuel, ongoing issues with cod quotas “adds to the problem”. F/V Comrades skipper Ben Irvine, 24, agreed – saying the cost of fuel “has become a real problem” for him and his crew. “As a young crew, we have debts to pay off from purchasing the vessel last year. >click to read< 08:19

Young skippers and crew take over two whitefish trawlers – Skipper Ben Irvine, Owen Dougan, Gordon Smith, Louis Polson, and LHD, have bought the F/V Sedulous from John Wishart. She has been renamed F/V ComradesMeanwhile., skipper Robbie Jamieson, Richard Whelan, James Shearer, Ross Sutherland, Tom Jamieson, and Magnus Polson, have bought the F/V Defiant from Gordon Irvine. >click to read<

Fishermen seek greater understanding of wind farm impacts

Projects already in the pipeline could wreak havoc with key spawning and nursery grounds for important fish stocks, they warned today. According to Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), there are major overlaps between proposed areas of offshore wind farm development and sensitive ecosystems for young fish. Several wind farm areas will impact the spawning and nursery grounds of Scotland’s most valuable pelagic fish stocks, such as mackerel, herring and blue whiting, the industry body added. SFA also pointed to research showing a negative impact on shellfish species from offshore turbines and associated cabling.  >click to read< 19:11

New fishing partnership enters industry

Brodie Ramsay, Jack Garrick, and Skipper John Williamson are joint owners of the 23-metre vessel, built in 1993. The sale of the vessel, including licences and quota, marks another chapter in the ongoing process of younger crews taking over. Twenty-year-old Ramsay, from Ollaberry, who has already been at the fishing for the last five years, said the move felt like a “good opportunity to get into the industry”.> click to read < 12:19

MP Alistair Carmichael requests Faroese meeting over Russian trawler concerns

Countries across the world have taken various actions to sanction the Russian economy in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s regime, including a campaign by islanders to prevent Russian vessels from making use of port facilities in Orkney and Shetland, but the Faroese government has continued to allow Russian trawlers to make use of fishing grounds shared with the UK. Mr Carmichael has requested a meeting to discuss local concerns further and to advocate for a change in Faroese policy on the issue, highlighting longstanding ties of friendship between the Faroes and the Northern Isles,,, >click to read< 11:02

Fishermen join forces to tackle North Sea cod quota ‘mismatch’

Skippers and other industry representatives from Shetland, Scotland, Denmark, Norway and England met in Copenhagen to discuss a “quota mismatch” they are facing at sea, Shetland Fishermen’s Association said today. Vessels are encountering more cod than current official assessments, the industry group said, adding the recent talks in Copenhagen  “painted a unanimous picture” of an abundant stock stretching across the whole North Sea and beyond. But quota for the species, a staple of fish suppers in many parts of the UK has been slashed by 70% in just three years. According to the SFA, this “poor science” leads to quota recommendations that bear no resemblance to the volume of fish in the sea. >click to read< 12:46

It’s hard to go green if you’re facing the red

It is a fact brought back into focus by the war in Ukraine. For decades, governments have promoted and promised a move away from oil and gas, getting ever greener, at least in their messaging, in response to the justified eco-concerns of modern-day voters, writes Daniel Lawson, newly appointed executive officer at the Shetland Fishermen’s Association. Now energy costs are rising even higher, our reliance on imports is being called into question – and our governments, who only a few months ago hosted the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow – are having to reconsider just how green our society can really afford to be in this moment. This sharp rise in fuel costs affects us all, every household, every industry. Such remains the scale of our reliance – still – on fossil fuels. The practical reality is that we can’t yet manage without oil and gas. It’s an example that highlights a wider point: it’s hard to go green if you’re facing the red. >click to read< 19:01

Brighter Hope for fishermen as they take ownership of boat

Two young brothers and their friend have taken ownership of the Copious and renamed her Brighter Hope (LK98). Tom Robertson, 33, and Ross Robertson, 30, along with George Jamieson, 36, have acquired the 19m vessel. Brighter Hope is named after Mr Jamieson’s grandfather John James Fullerton’s 45ft boat Brighter Hope (LK 502), which was bought in the early 1950s. New skipper Tom Robertson said: “We hope to start fishing within the next two weeks after doing some upgrades and sorting the paperwork. >click to read< 14:43

New crabber Valentia will add safety and comfort for fishing crew

Local skipper Richard Grains says he was pleased how his new crabber F/V ValentiaLK21 performed during her 800-mile journey from Valentia Island, in the southwest of Ireland, to Shetland last week. The new vessel arrived at the Vidlin marina for the naming ceremony at the weekend after successfully dodging Storm Dudley on her four-day journey home. The new vessel is a significant step up from Richard’s previous boat, also called Valentia and built at the same yard about 10 years ago. >click to read< 18:35

Could Shetland’s first RNLI lifeboat return home?

Shetland’s historic first RNLI lifeboat is looking for a new home, and its owner is keen to see if anyone in the isles would be interested in taking her on. The Lady Jane and Martha Ryland was brought to Lerwick in 1930 to give the RNLI its first presence in Shetland. After going out of service, she ended up in Dartmouth at the other end of the UK. She is currently owned by 30-year-old Charles Anderson, who bought the boat during lockdown with the aim of carrying out a restoration. Photos, >click to read< 09:02

Young skippers and crew take over two whitefish trawlers

Skipper Ben Irvine, Owen Dougan, Gordon Smith, Louis Polson, and LHD, have bought the F/V Sedulous from John Wishart. She has been renamed F/V ComradesMeanwhile., skipper Robbie Jamieson, Richard Whelan, James Shearer, Ross Sutherland, Tom Jamieson, and Magnus Polson, have bought the F/V Defiant from Gordon Irvine. “A lot of the older generation of fishermen are retiring and it’s really fine to see young guys taking it on. It’ll be a fresh start, but we have a lot to learn. >click to read< 08:34

Fishermen call for ‘shake-up’ of quota setting system

In response to the deal, which was finalised on Friday, Shetland Fishermen’s Associations have again called for the creation of an independent panel of experts to examine and evaluate stock assessments made by scientists from the International Council of for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The SFA’s executive officer Simon Collins said the agreed quotas bear “little of no resemblance of the abundance of fish observed on the grounds.” “We’re sick and tired of going through the same process every year. Wildly erratic stock assessments, often both ways, are held up as sacred truths,,, >click to read< 21:20

Fishing association says offshore wind farms being rushed through

Plans to build offshore windfarms west of Shetland are being rushed through, according to the Shetland Fishermen’s Association. Policy officer Sheila Keith said the industry “depends on these rich grounds” for catching. She said fishermen were “hugely concerned” that proper assessments into how the offshore wind industry will affect fishing are not being made. >click to read< 10:22

Mixed picture for Shetland fish landings – an increase in volume but a drop in value

Just over 54,000 tonnes – worth some £72 million – were landed in the islands during 2020, nearly half of it by Shetland boats. The total tonnage was up by 7% year-on-year but the value fell 10%. Some 18,600 tonnes of white-fish worth £37m were landed in Shetland, more than two-thirds of it by local boats. Mr Napier said Shetland landings were not badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, >click to read< 08:56

Skipper of stricken Banff boat thanks those involved in Shetland rescue

The 85ft Banff-registered Enterprise II suffered engine failure and began taking on water about 60 miles west of Sumburgh on Thursday. Force eight winds added to the choppy conditions – making it hard for nearby vessels to get the boat, which had six crew onboard, under tow. Now skipper James Lovie has thanked the coastguard, RNLI Aith and vessels that came to their aid and finally got them back to safety., “We appreciate greatly all those who were involved, and helped get us back to shore.” >click to read< 07:28

A lifetime at sea

Retired skippers John Arthur Irvine and Willie Williamson have more than 100 years of fishing between them. Both played a key roll in progressing Whalsay’s pelagic fishing industry to what it is today. Here they share some of their stories with Cloe Irvine. They worked close to shore and learning from the older hands of how to navigate using fishing ‘meids’ was essential. When the first Decca navigators came in they helped a bit but they were a far cry from the satellite navigation that is the standard today. Recalling those early fishing trips to John Arthur, now 77 years old, said it had been vital to take on board the lessons that the older generation had passed on. “We didn’t even have a radar when we first went to Aberdeen, with stacked mist half of the time. >click to read< 08:11

Pushing the Limit: Councillor floats idea of devolving some fisheries control to Shetland

Duncan Anderson, who represents the North Isles, pointed to the Scottish Islands Act which gives scope for local authorities to request more powers or functions. The Scottish Government has the responsibility for managing inshore fishing out to the 12 mile limit. A precedent was set more than 20 years ago when the management of the local commercial shellfish fishery out to the six mile limit was devolved to the Shetland Shellfish Management Organization. Anderson, who is from the fishing community of Whalsay, said he “firmly believes that Shetland should control the fisheries in what would be Shetland’s EEZ, like our Faroese neighbours”. >click to read< 15:47

Green investors don’t see the damage they inflict on the environment

Sometimes you have to step back and take stock of what you are doing to address certain problems,,, The approval of Viking Energy appears to have kickstarted the use of Shetland and its surrounding seabed as an industrial development site for government subsidized offshore wind farms, covering some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe. Covering the seabed with wind farm anchors, cables and associated debris, causing the exclusion of Shetland’s fishing fleet from their traditional fishing grounds both East and West of Shetland would potentially wipe out much of what is left of our local fishing industry. >click to read<  By William Polson, Whalsay18:37

Renewal programme continues as Courageous joins local fleet

Skipper Ian Shearer and his partners Christopher Irvine, James Johnson and Malcolm Reid sailed into their home port of Symbister on Saturday after crossing the North Sea from Hvide Sande in Denmark where the vessel was built. The new vessel replaces the previous Courageous, formally known as the Guardian Angell, which they had bought from Yell in 2015. The move enabled the young fishing partnership, four men were aged between 17 and 25 at the time, to get a foothold in the local industry. The fifth shareholder in the company is local fishing agent LHD. >click to read< 14:37

Fundraising appeal launched to support family of fisherman who died at sea

Joseph Lacaste, 45, was out with the trawler Copious when he fell overboard in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday). Despite rescue attempts from the coastguard and RNLI, he was later confirmed to have died. His friend Robie Johnson set up a fundraiser for the family, She said his family were struggling financially and needed help paying their mortgage.  >click to read<, and >click here<, Help Josephs Family Fundraiser, and please donate if you can. 07:36

 Man dies after falling overboard from fishing boat – A fisherman has died after going overboard from local whitefish trawler Copious 30 miles south east of Sumburgh in the early hours of the morning on Thursday. >click to read<

New F/V Ocean Challenge a massive boost to Skerries

The arrival of a brand new state of the art whitefish trawler at the outlying community of Out Skerries has been described as a major boost to the small community by skipper Leslie Hughson. Built at Mooney Boats yard in Killybegs the Ocean Challenge arrived in Lerwick at the weekend before heading to her home port of Skerries for the naming ceremony on Sunday. Back in Lerwick on Monday to take on gear ahead of fishing trials later this week, Hughson said sailing the new vessel home to Skerries had been a “proud moment”. >click to read< 09:31

New Opportune joins the local fleet

Opportune has been sold to other Shetland partners of Avrella Fishing Company and will be re-named Avrella in due course. Skipper Ross Christie and his father Jim own the 28m long vessel which was bought from Whitehills, near Macduff, and was shot blasted, repainted and had her three Caterpillar engines overhauled and hydraulic pipework renewed at Peterhead before she was taken north. Ross’s brother Alwyn is mate on the vessel, which was built in 1998 at Astilleros Armon in Spain as Harvest Moon. photos, >click to read< 09:22

“We’ve caught some big ones before but nothing close to that.”

A Whalsay fisherman has told of his surprise at catching a massive monkfish – the biggest his crew has ever encountered. Skipper Arthur Polson’s five man crew were out in Resilient on Wednesday when they netted the 57kg (125lb.) beast. Mr Polson said he was “very surprised” to catch such a huge fish. “We spent 10 years in our old boat targeting monkfish and never saw one this size,” he said,,, The crew, which is made up of John Montgomery, Ian Reid, Stephen Anderson and Theo Polson, was trawling 90 miles east of Lerwick when they caught the monkfish in their seine net. >click to read< 08:43

Coronavirus: Urgent measures sought to help shellfish sector market undermined by continental closures

Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government for temporary help for the sector which is hardest hit among the local strands of the fishing industry. Shetland’s continental exports are mostly crab and scallop, but prawns (nephrops), which form a huge part of Scottish seafood exports, are also badly affected. Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said that it was essential to support a sector that in normal times was very healthy in order to tide it over till the effects of coronavirus had broken. >click to read<08:40

NAFC students make complete trawl from scratch

The Sea Fishing course runs over a period of 12 months with two college blocks to cover theory and other practical tasks which may be difficult to complete at sea. The latest college block saw the students make a complete trawl net from basic materials. NAFC boat skipper and fishing gear technician Arthur Johnson said; “It is a valuable exercise that gives the students an in depth knowledge about all the parts of the gear. photos, >click to read< 09:35

New Charisma shines before heading for shakedown trip

At 75m long and 15.3m beam she is five metres longer and 0.8m beamier than her predecessor, which has gone to Iceland after 16 years service to the Charisma partners. Shareholder and skipper Davy Hutchison is continuing at the helm with William Polson also a skipper and Billy Hughson as engineer.,, Charisma will be sailing with a big crew of 14, including some new recruits who will be trained up in the first few trips. That number might in future reduce as some of the older hands decide to step down. >click to read< 08:00