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Shellfish controls to be discussed

SHELLFISHERMEN are to be consulted next month about conservation measures for working in inshore waters.

Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) has teamed up with Scalloway’s NAFC Marine Centre to look for new ways to manage the fishery in the isles.

The consultation comes as the Marine Stewardship Council assess the way Shetland manages its most important inshore species immediately after Christmas.

The SSMO is will consult its members shortly on stock management through limiting gear, landings or the use of technical conservation measures.
SSMO fisheries manager Jennifer Mouat said: “Management controls, such as the restriction of fishing effort, are being discussed at a national level and will inevitably translate into policy at some stage in the near future.

“By looking at this at a local level now, Shetland will continue to be a recognised innovator in inshore shellfisheries management throughout Europe allowing local

fishermen to take the initiative and control their fishery in the most appropriate way.”

The SSMO has recruited NAFC head of marine science and technology Martin Robinson to help with the consultation, due to his expertise in the field after working in Ireland.

Dr Robinson said: “A transparent and locally organised process will not only empower inshore fishermen to help define the future of the Shetland shellfisheries rather than have it dictated from elsewhere, but also help dissolve associated myths and reduce the knee-jerk reactions that can sometime occur when management is


He said research showed that having more gear in the water for longer was bad for both fishermen and the environment, and warned against boats trying to get as many “pots” in the water as they could, not least because of the antagonism it caused.

As well as effort control, he suggested limits could be placed on the type of shellfish that could be landed, based on size or gender

“There are lots of lessons that can be learned from other fisheries and I am glad that the NAFC Marine Centre is helping the SSMO members profit from these during this

process,” Dr Robinson said.

“I hope that the system that the SSMO develops will be one that will address the biological sustainability of the stock itself but also the economic and social sustainable of fishermen.”