LUNAR Fishing Company has highlighted the buoyancy of the market for pelagic and white fish as it reported a big increase in profits in its most recent financial year.

The Peterhead-based firm booked a pre-tax profit of £17.3 million for the year ended December 31, new accounts at Companies House show.

Profits were 23 per cent higher than the year before, though turnover dipped to £80.5m from £86.2m.

The firm, which is controlled by the trawler-owning Buchan family, notes in the accounts that its principal activities during the year were the operation of fishing vessels, fish processing and the provision of freezing and cold storage facilities.

Mulling the future outlook for the business, the firm writes in the accounts: “The commercial environment in the market for pelagic and white fish products continues to be buoyant and the group is well placed to take advantage of this having made substantial investment in both the catching and processing sectors of the industry.”

According to the accounts, Lunar employed an average of 285 staff last year, up from 279, with overall payroll costs climbing to £13.4m from £12.8m. That included wages and salaries totalling £12.6m, up from £12m.

The accounts show that nearly £2.6 million of dividends were paid to shareholders during the year. Net assets were stated at £126.1m at the period end, versus £114.4m.