1 million box mark smashed at port

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More than one million boxes of fish have been landed at Peterhead port during the past year - the first time since 2000.

Port chief executive, John Wallace, said he was delighted at the figures - with still two weeks left of the year to go, the final market being on Monday, December 23.

In 2000 the figure for landings stood at 1.3m boxes, but it is hoped that figure will be smashed this year.

Mr Wallace told us: “Clearly we are delighted to achieve this milestone which can only reflect the accuracy of reports from our fishermen regarding stock levels.

“I am hopeful this can be translated and rewarded with a TAC that will bring encouragement to the industry and confidence in the year ahead.

“I think it is worth pointing out that while the volume of fish is a welcomed metric, the most important aspect in this equation has been that the value has held up remarkably well.

“This is a reflection on the resilience of our processors and further proof that both sectors can reap rewards through continued good ‘stewardship’ of this precious resource”.

Meanwhile, the port authority has completed a bore hole study, which took samples from the inner harbour and around the Merchant Quay fishmarket.

“From this point we will be able to tell how much excavation work needs to be done to double the depth of the harbour to 6.5m,” said Mr Wallace.

He said that the port was looking at another four months of investigations and permissions required and the grant application to the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which has been delayed until September next year.

“We will be hopefully ready to go bar awaiting a grant decision. That’s not likely to take place until the end of next year, early 2015.

“If that is successful, works will then start in 2015 and be completed by mid 2016,” he said.

“It’s largely dependent on a successful EMFF grant and negotiations with the bank which are favourable.

“Of the £140m we are looking for, just of half will be coverd by the hank and grant funding with the rest being paid from our resources.

“Early next year the port is due to become cash neutral. We will have sufficient resources to cover our borrowing after eight years of being merged and having completed a £33m development. That’s very positive news for the port,” said Mr Wallace.

“Our fishing figures are back slight but they should be round about what they were last year with a turnover of around £9.5m and we are delighted to be in that position.”

Mr Wallace said there had been a few setbacks this year, particularly the turbine bid, adding: “It was right to go ahead with the application, but we will not be taking things any further with this particulary bid.”