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Shetland's mackerel prices slump as Russian import ban kicks in

Value fell almost a third in 2015.

Shetland suffered a 29 percent slump in the value of fish and shellfish landed in its ports during 2015, while volumes fell by 8 percent, according to new figures reported in The Press & Journal.

Provisional statistics compiled by senior policy adviser Ian Napier of NAFC Marine Centre UHI at Scalloway reveal 73,000 metric tons of fish and shellfish, worth a total of £60 million (€76 million/$87 million), landed by local and visiting boats.

The figures are down sharply from 2014 after mackerel fishers took a big hit from quota cuts, plunging prices and the closure of their key Russian market due to trade sanctions.

But the volume of fish brought ashore in Shetland last year still eclipsed the 67,016 metric ton total for England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.

An estimated additional 83,000 metric tons of fish worth £45 million (€57 million/$65 million) were landed outside Shetland by local boats.

It is estimated that Shetland fishing boats accounted for more than one fifth (22 percent) of all landings by UK boats in 2015.

And more fish and shellfish came into Shetland last year than in any other port in the UK, except Peterhead.

Napier’s statistics, derived from UK Marine Management Organization and Shetland Fish Producers’ Organization data, show a total of just under 16,000 metric tons of whitefish worth about £26 million (€33 million/$38 million) brought ashore in Shetland last year. Three-quarters of this was caught by local fishing boats.

The weight and value of whitefish landed were slightly less than in 2014, by 2 percent and 4 percent respectively.

Pelagic species -- mainly mackerel -- accounted for most of the fish landed in Shetland last year, 75 percent by weight and 51 percent by value.

A total of about 54,500 metric tons of pelagics -- worth about £31 million (€39 million/$45 million) -- came into Shetland’s ports, about half of it caught by local fishing boats.

Pelagic tonnage was down by 9 percent, while the value of the catch was down by nearly one-third (32 percent) from 2014.


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