The coupled effect of sky high fuel prices and the soaring costs of fresh fish has conspired to bring about the end of a daily part of life in one of the UK’s island chains.
Next Friday will see the end of the Shetland Isles fish van, a much appreciated service that delivered fish to some of the more far flung areas of the islands. The service run by fish merchants, Hunters of Scalloway, will come to a close on the 17th and the vans sold off. Hunters will still operate their fresh fish shop on the island and continue to operate their processing factory where a dozen islanders are employed. It is thought the end of the fish van will force a couple of redundancies.
Gibbie Hunter, who originally set the van service up said the family were bitterly disappointed at having to stop the service as many older islanders were reliant on the other supplies it carried. He explained “You were never going to become a millionaire out of it. But it’s gone on and on, and as years have gone by things have gotten dearer.
Everybody knows the cost of fuel in Shetland nowadays. Fish prices at the market in Shetland here now are as dear as they have ever been. We’ve increased our prices on the vans, but the more you increase the prices the less you sell. People who were buying six fillets a year ago are only buying four now. Fish is now coming to be like steak. Steak is cheaper in fact. If you’re running a van it burns a lot of fuel – and mind, we’re doing a lot of mileage”
The cost of commercial vehicle insurance would also have been a factor when the family added up the sums, but eventually advice from bankers and accountants persuaded them that the rest of the business would suffer if they carried on absorbing the losses from the delivery vans.