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The new purpose-built mussel harvesting vessel for C & A Thomason of Yell arrived in Lerwick Harbour yesterday (Thursday 7 August). Built by Alumarine in Brittany, the Pro-Cat 14 aluminium boat, named ‘Reliance’, measures 14 metres long and 6.5 metres wide.

Managing director of C & A Thomason, Christopher Thomason said: “Our existing workboat had limited deck space which meant all cleaning and grading of mussels had to be done on shore. The ‘Reliance’ will be fitted out with cleaning and grading equipment over the next 10 days, which will make our harvesting operation much more efficient and allow us to process greater volumes of mussels.

“We selected Alumarine in Brittany to build the vessel because we were impressed with their workmanship and they were already familiar and experienced in building our chosen Pro Cat 14 design. We are very pleased with the result, which will make a significant difference to our business.”

Arriving in Lerwick, skipper of the boat Marvin Thomason said: “We have covered 1200 miles since we left the shipyard in Brittany. We encountered some poor weather conditions in the Irish Sea but the boat handled it very well. We were pleased with the good overall speed of the vessel, averaging 11 to 12 knots.”

The introduction of this new harvesting vessel is part of a gradual expansion of the company, which supplies retail and wholesale markets across the UK including many high end restaurants in London via Billingsgate Market.

C & A Thomason was established by Christopher Thomason in Spring 1999. His brother Marvin is now a partner in the business. As well as being skipper of the boat, Marvin looks after the sea sites, while Christopher manages the packing and shore side of the operation. The company currently employs 14 people.

Christopher continued: “We chose the name ‘Reliance’ in respect of a fishing boat that was very successful for a long time in Cullivoe, as we were growing up.

“We are very grateful to Ruth Henderson and Seafood Shetland for assistance with this project, and also to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the European Fisheries Fund.”