Peterhead has been named ‘Port of the Year’ at this year’s Fishing News awards.
The Blue Toon beat off stiff competition from neighbouring port Fraserburgh and those at Bridlington, Brixham and Cullivoe.
A new port record annual catch of £195m in 2017 helped Peterhead to the accolade, while judges also noted ongoing work on the £51m North Harbour development, which by doubling the depth of water will give all classes of whitefish vessel 24/7 access to a new landing hub.
Port authority chief executive John Wallace said he was delighted with the port’s recognition.
“The judging format changed this year from voting by social media to a panel of experts,” he said.
“This award is not simply about ‘metrics’ and who landed the most or highest value of fish.
“It emcompasses the whole spectrum of servics and recognised the efforts the employees at the harbour made to keep the port operational and successful, all while undertaking one of the largest civil works developments in our history.”
Regarding the current development, Mr Wallace said it was almost complete, with the fish market scheduled to open and host the first landing on Junje 15, with the first auction on June 18 (depending on completing of dredging).
“The rest of the marine works will take a little longer given the enlarged scope but are scheduled for completion early September with demobilisation complete by October 14,” he said.
New chief executive, Simon Brebner, takes up his role on June 11 and Mr Wallace will remain for a handover period and to conclude the devleopment.
The official opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, September 29, when the whole project will be opened with a celebration for the port’s patrons planned to be held in the fishmarket recognising ‘Peterhead - Fishing Through the Ages’.
The herring drifter ‘Swan’ from Shetland is booked to visit the port and activities are being co-ordinated to involve as many local groups as possible, including Peterhead Academy, The Sea Cadets, Theatre Modo, Peterhead Heritage Society and several other groups. Seafood sourced at Peterhead will also be featured as will processing skills by the Scottish Seafood Association.
Mr Wallace acced: “All-in-all it looks like a very dynamic and interesting showcase development to display what has made Peterhead the number one destination for all things fish for a very long time.”
Meanwhile, other winners at this year’s awards were Peter Bruce, skipper of the Budding Rose, who jointly won Demersal Fisherman of the Year.
Judges said his passion for the industry is notable, as is his use of social media to promote the industry and its issues.
Philip Reid won the award for Technical Innovation of the Year for his new design of flexible inclined panel which is very effective at separating nephrops from fish and releasing undersized fish.
Joint winner of Young Fisherman of the Year was Haydn McLeod of Forever Faithful (PD 289) who undertook a 12-week trainee deckhand course at the age of 16 and now takes sole charge of a crew of five.