Mixed picture for fish landings at Peterhead Port

Fish landings at Peterhead Port for 2021 are set to be broadly in line with those for 2020, although the headline figures conceal a range of different trends.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 7:11 am
Revetment works have now been completed at the port. (Photo: Ashleigh Contracts Ltd and McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd)

By the end of October, £156m worth of fish and shellfish (137,229 tonnes) had been landed or consigned to the port, compared to £160m (142,542 tonnes) for the same 10-month period in 2020.

Whitefish landings were down substantially – £71m compared to £83m, and 36,668 tonnes compared to 46,541 tonnes – due to cuts in quota, although these figures were ahead of expectations.

By contrast, shellfish landings were more than double the size of those for Jan-Oct 2020 (£16m compared to £7m, and 8,521 tonnes compared to 4,029 tonnes). The total value of shellfish landed for the whole of 2020 was just shy of £9m.

On the pelagic side, £52m worth of mackerel had been landed by October 31, compared to £56m for the same period of 2020, although this was down to a slow start to the fishery in October.

Herring landed on the quayside was worth almost £13m, ahead of the equivalent for 2020 of less than £12m (21,680 tonnes, compared to 25,203 tonnes).

Stephen Paterson, Peterhead Port Authority chief financial officer, said: “It has been a particularly challenging year for the white fish fleet following a far from optimal Brexit settlement and quota cuts.

“With negotiations on next year’s quotas underway, that situation for 2022 is still unclear. Some species will be subject to further cuts, but this may be offset by improved opportunities for international quota swaps.

“Shellfish landings for 2021 have been particularly strong, marking a rebound from the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when the sector was effectively closed down due to the closure of overseas markets and domestic outlets.

“The mackerel season in October was slow to get going, but the figures for November will drive up the value and tonnage for the year.

“With our British Retail Consortium AA rating at Peterhead Fish Market, plus Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Responsible Fishing Port status, we continue to offer a great value proposition to seafood businesses looking to get their fabulous produce to customers in the best condition possible.”Meanwhile, works designed to protect Peterhead Fish Market from overtopping have now been completed.

The six-month, £5.5 million project – carried out by main contractor McLaughlin & Harvey with RPS as consultant – involved refurbishing and reinstating a 155m section of the revetment along Alexandra Parade to a height of 10m. More than 25,000 tonnes of rock was deployed.

The existing rock armour had been damaged and eroded since it was constructed in the 1980s, resulting in significant overtopping of the seawall.

Peterhead Port Authority chief executive Simon Brebner said: “The new fish market is a major asset whose infrastructure and operations we wished to protect from overtopping in stormy weather.

“The contractors have done an excellent job on the works within the agreed timeframe in a difficult and exposed location at the north end of the port, and their labours have been a success as we have already seen during very rough conditions.”