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Hans J Marter

15 May, 2008

FISH processor Shetland Catch has recorded almost £4 million of pre tax losses in 2006/07, only slightly better than the previous year.

The disastrous performance over the last two years is largely the result of not enough mackerel and herring being landed due to the fish quota pay back scheme.

But Shetland Catch yesterday (Wednesday) revealed that the company was back in profit in the last financial year for which accounts were only now being prepared.

Early in 2007, the Scottish pelagic fleet was ordered by Europe to pay back around 50,000 tonnes of mackerel that had been landed as black fish between 2001 and 2005.

Shetland's share in this is believed to be in the region of 20,000 tonnes. The six year pay back scheme follows from raids made on pelagic factories in Peterhead in Lerwick in autumn of 2005.

Shetland Catch accounts for 2006/07 show a turnover of £55 million with pre tax losses of £3.9 million.

In a statement, managing director Simon Leiper said: "The year 2006/07 was another difficult trading year due to adverse market conditions for both herring and mackerel.

"As a result, the company underwent a re-structuring process to strengthen its position. This involved an injection of equity from existing shareholders, Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Fish Producers' Organisation, and also fisheries group Austevoll Seafood ASA of Norway."

The company had announced the re-structuring in June last year, a move that raised £2.7 million on equity from new and existing shareholders.

The move was seen by industry observers as a major step towards consolidation of the pelagic processing industry in the wake of the over quota fish landings and the subsequent payback regime imposed by Europe.

Mr Leiper added: "We are delighted to report that trading conditions have since improved and the company will report a return to profit in 2007/08."

This, it is believed, is largely due to the fact that the majority of the over quota fish has been paid back, but also thanks to successful experiments with processing blue whiting for human consumption.

Shetland Catch is one of the largest private sector employers in the isles with more than 100 staff on its books.

Most recent update - Sunday, 03 August 2008 23:43
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