ThE Provost of Aberdeenshire, Councillor Jill Webster, had a fisheries tour in Peterhead and Fraserburgh to celebrate the success of one of Aberdeenshire’s most vibrant industries during challenging times.
The most recent figures reveal that the combined value of fish and shellfish landings at Peterhead and Fraserburgh harbours in 2011 was £208 million – more than 43% of the Scottish total.
With a comprehensive tour of the main elements of Aberdeenshire’s fisheries industry on Friday 15 February, the Provost hopes to promote a sector which celebrates success by adapting to modern requirements, but continues to face serious challenges.
The visit began with an early morning visit to the Merchants Quay Fish Market at Peterhead, where the Provost witnessed the auction of more than 1,100 boxes of freshly caught white and pelagic fish, and shellfish. A quick stop for breakfast at the nearby Dolphin Café, and she was taken on a tour of Peterhead Harbour by John Wallace, Chief Executive of the Peterhead Port Authority.
Peterhead was badly damaged in the severe coastal storm which affected the region on December 15 last year. The Scottish Government has awarded additional funding of £250,000 to help with repairs.
At the harbour, the Provost was taken on a tour of The Quantas, one of the most modern pelagic fishing vessels in the UK. Skipper Mark Buchan demonstrated the wide array of technology on board the fishing vessel.
She was provided with a special lunch, showcasing the best of what Aberdeenshire’s fisheries industry has to offer, and cooked by students from Banff and Buchan College.
From there the trip moved on to Fraserburgh, where the Provost was taken on a tour of the town’s harbour – the largest shellfish port in Europe – by Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioner Andrew Ironside. The harbour was also damaged by storms and work is ongoing to assess the extent and cost of the damage. At both Peterhead and Fraserburgh, the Provost heard about exciting plans to harness opportunities linked with both the traditional oil and gas sector, and also the emerging offshore renewable energy sector.
She visited the new premises of the Fraserburgh RNLI branch and was treated to a short journey around the harbour on the Willie and May Gall lifeboat.
The day continued with a chance to see the operations of the Whitelink Seafoods Ltd processing plant.
The Provost ended the tour by hosting an evening reception at the Buchan Braes Hotel in Boddam, attended by leading figures from the fisheries and maritime industries, along with Aberdeenshire councillors and senior council officials.
She said: “From what I have seen today, I firmly believe that the industry is in good hands and has a very bright future.
“That’s not to say it will be plain sailing from here. The industry continues to face major challenges, but fisheries in Aberdeenshire is a fantastic product and one I am keen to see more widely recognised on a national and international level.”
Mr Wallace said: “The Port of Peterhead was delighted to host the visit of Provost Webster who has shown a keen interest in our operations and business. The diversity of trades at the port working in harmony and as a congruous unit appeals to her business background.
“We know that as Aberdeenshire’s ‘First Citizen’, she is well prepared to promote all that is on offer in a senior level ambassadorial role for this area and beyond. We are privileged indeed for this opportunity made possible by the Provost.”
Fraserburgh harbourmaster, Andrew Ironside, said: “With the fishing sector continuing to be squeezed from all sides, it is excellent news that the Provost has decided to become a “Fisherman for the day”.
“This can only be beneficial for the industry and will help provide a much-needed spin on what we at Fraserburgh continue to believe is an industry with a future.”