Fish Landings Up but Value Down

Just over 54,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth some £72 million, were landed in Shetland in 2020. That was an increase in weight from 2019 but a fall in value.

These results are amongst those contained in Shetland Fisheries Statistics 2020 which has been published by Shetland UHI. The report is based on an analysis of newly released figures from the Scottish and UK Governments by Dr Ian Napier and provides a detailed breakdown of fish and shellfish landings in Shetland and by Shetland fishing boats during 2020.

The report shows that although the weight of pelagic fish (mackerel) landed in Shetland increased by more than one-third in 2020 that was partly offset by a substantial fall in landings of whitefish such as cod, saithe and hake. The decrease in whitefish landings is believed to be primarily a result of the 50% cut in the cod quota in 2020 which affected boats’ ability to catch not just cod but a range of other species also. The quantity of shellfish landed in Shetland increased slightly in 2020 but their value was substantially less, probably due to the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Shetland fishing boats landed about 94,000 tonnes of fish during the year (everywhere) with a value of £105 million. Although somewhat more in weight that was slightly less in value than in 2019.

Shetland's prominent position in the UK fishing industry continued with more fish and shellfish landed in the islands than in any other port in the UK, except Peterhead, and more fish landed in Shetland than in all of England and Wales. Lerwick, Scalloway and Cullivoe were all in the top 15 UK ports for whitefish landings in 2020.

Overall, there does not appear to have been a large impact on fish landings in Shetland from the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest probable impact was on the prices of shellfish and, to a lesser extent, of some whitefish species.

The full report is available on the Shetland UHI website at: