Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a £40m investment into Peterhead Harbour to ensure it remains at the forefront of the fishing industry for the remainder of the 21st century.
Proposals drawn up by Peterhead Port Authority (PPA) would develop the facility into a fully integrated, state-of-the-art fishing hub by 2106.
The developments include the deepening of both the Port’s North and South harbours – and approaches – from -3.5m to -7m, which would allow vessels unrestricted access and berthing in safe, weather-protected inner basins.
The authority is also looking to construct an all new fish market on the site of the harbour’s former Greenhill market. The facility would enable the harbour to handle more than 8,000 boxes and provide enhanced opportunities for the display and management of fish, helping fishermen to continue to secure top industry prices.
Given the recent uplift in landings, taken in tandem with the encouraging news regarding fish stocks, a larger fish market will be central to accommodating future market demand.
A key element of the new market proposal involves the provision of a covered landing area for private users to ensure fishermen and their product enjoy protection from the elements, particularly hovering birds.
The proposals are about to get underway and work could commence on gathering essential information through test bore holes in October. An Environmental Impact Assessment is also required for a Harbour Revision Order.
If the application is supported and funding agreed, preliminary work would take around 12 to 18 months to complete, while the actual construction phase of the project would take a further 12 to 18 months.
John Wallace, chief executive of Peterhead Port Authority, commented: “We’re delighted to unveil our plans for the redevelopment of this part of Peterhead Harbour. These strategic proposals for the introduction of state-of-the-art facilities would inject fresh life into the local fishing industry and help us further position the harbour as the premier fishing port in Europe.
“All aspects of the plans would have a tremendous impact on the Port, town and subsequently the local business community, but the real jewel in the crown would be the provision of deep water, which would significantly benefit white fish activity.
“Investigative work has already commenced and we’re eager to progress the project, however, we recognise it is essential that we carry the views and support of the fishing industry with us. This development will build on Peterhead Port Authority’s recent impressive successes and ensure a prosperous future for the Port and its stakeholders, which in turn can only be good news for the town.”
A meeting was held on Saturday, September 7, with fishermen and all those with an interest in the harbour to discuss the proposals.
Mr Wallace said: “About 50 people turned up on Saturday primarily representing the fishing, processing, salesmen and suppliers. The presentation lasted an hour with a question and answer session.
“All sectors expressed their satisfaction with the plans and stated they were extremely pleased to see this significant statement of intent by the port authority in the future of the whitefish industry. There remains much to be done but it was made abundantly clear that the port needed the industry to get behind these plans so that when an approach is made to the Scottish Government re funding, they would be in no doubt that we were speaking with one voice, united in our efforts to keep Peterhead competitive and at the forefront of the fishing industry.
“The objectives of this project to provide deep safe water, enhance the fish market space by 50%, provide a private landing covered facility and thereby create a bespoke integrated fishing hub, were warmly welcomed. We will now progress to optimise these plans while consulting with other port users, customers and stakeholders,” he added.
Peterhead Harbour – the UK’s largest fishing port – has performed extremely strongly for many years and only recently, its fish market achieved record landings for five successive years, from 2005 to 2010.
The landings figures rose impressively from £104million in 2006 to £164million in 2011, further cementing its position as the top performing UK port for both demersal and pelagic fish.