Salmon worth £1 million was left in Lerwick, rather than being shipped south yesterday (Tuesday). Following Wednesday's meeting of hauliers, the seafood sector and Serco Northlink, which Shetland MSP Tavish Scott attended, he is arranging to speak with Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson.
The Stewart Building Transport Group want extra freight capacity introduced immediately otherwise salmon and whitefish will continue to be left in Lerwick rather than shipped south. This is despite the best efforts of Northlink whose work was praised by the industry today.
Tavish Scott said:
"Shetland's seafood industry is our most valuable one. To meet customer and market needs we must be able to export salmon and whitefish every weekday night and especially at the beginning of the week. Yet yesterday 9 trailers of salmon worth £1 million was left on the quayside in Lerwick.
"The seafood export requirements also mean that no other cargo is getting boat space at the beginning of the week. This is principally because both freight ships are in Kirkwall, and Shetland has no extra capacity between Sunday and Wednesday. This just cannot go on."
Tavish Scott has contacted the Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, so that he can brief him on the seriousness of the situation.
"We need the Scottish Government to step in and sort this out. They found £3.5 million for CalMac maintenance a fortnight ago, so money is not the problem.
"Shipping people say there are freight ships available for short time hire. That is what Shetland needs in time for next week. We simply cannot see a repeat of fresh products not being shipped because of a lack of capacity. As someone observed today, this is worse than Brexit.
"The Scottish Government want to promote a food export strategy, quite right too. But they cannot do that unless they provide a freight service from Shetland that gets seafood to the market. This needs sorting right now."