Angry fish firms demand isles ferry inquiry

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
27 February 2007, at 12:00am

SCOTLAND - Scotland's fish processors yesterday called for a public inquiry into the operation of the Northern Isles ferry service, after shipments of fresh fish from Shetland to the mainland were hit by unprecedented delays.

Fish merchants claim to have lost tens of thousands of pounds after the main NorthLink ferry service from Lerwick to Aberdeen was cancelled for most of last week because of bad weather.

But the company which operates the heavily subsidised lifeline route insisted the safety of the crew and passengers was paramount and would not be compromised.

The row erupted after the ferry service was cancelled between last Tuesday and Saturday because of high winds and a large swell at the entrance to Aberdeen harbour.

Andrew Charles, an Aberdeen-based director of the Scottish Fish Processors' Association, said the cancellations were unprecedented and totally unacceptable. "The whole industry has been thrown into disruption," he said.

"NorthLink has the monopoly on shipping fish from Shetland to Aberdeen. There was no ferry between Tuesday and Saturday, and the Saturday ferry did not arrive until Sunday, which misses all the transport links for the fresh fish business.

"You get a premium price for one- or two-day-old fish. The whole value of the product is devalued and people are incurring losses. Tens of thousands of pounds has been potentially lost."