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so much to sea

ADDITIONAL FREIGHT SERVICE TO AVERT SEAFOOD CRISIS

Following pressure exerted at a sectoral update with Transport Scotland on Wednesday (12 September) when the lack of freight capacity from Shetland was highlighted, the seafood industry in Shetland is delighted to announce that from Monday (17 September), this shortage will be relieved when the vessel MV Arrow will provide an additional service from Lerwick.

Sister ship to MV Helliar and MV Hildasay, MV Arrow has operated on the route before. The service will continue until early October, by which time the shipment of livestock from Orkney is expected to have reduced and the resulting strain eased.

In the immediate term, this will, however, only partially address the problem as the MV Helliar is currently operating on one engine and is taking 22 hours to complete what should normally be a 12 to 14 hour sea journey.  As a result, seafood is to be diverted to tonight’s southbound passenger ship.  A replacement part for MV Helliar is expected by the middle of next week.

Chief executive of Seafood Shetland, Ruth Henderson, said: “This is exactly what we need - although we would reiterate that this issue should have been addressed ahead of a crisis which Transport Scotland knew was looming.

“The Shetland seafood sector has paid a high cost in recent weeks with several millions pounds worth of fish left on the quayside, as the freight service was stretched to accommodate Orkney’s livestock shipments.

“This additional vessel will make all the difference, but needs to be maintained in order to support the industry’s current and imminent developments, such as the increase in landings and future growth of Scalloway and Lerwick fish markets. We very much hope that Transport Scotland will continue to acknowledge and react to the intelligence that the industry provides - and re-cast the service for the new contract, not only to meet the needs of a sector that forms the backbone of the Shetland economy, but also has a significant role to play in the Scottish government’s plan to expand Scotland’s exports throughout the world.”

Further information:For further information, please contact: Ruth Henderson, Seafood Shetland, tel: +44 (0)1595 693644 or email: ruth@fishuk.net

Or, Isabel Johnson, Shaw, tel: +44 (01595) 692465 or email: isabel.johnson@shaw-online.com