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Shellfishing under the spotlight

SHETLAND’s shellfish fisheries come under the spotlight on Friday when four members of the European Parliament visit the isles to learn about sustainable fishing.

The isles’ brown crab, lobster, velvet crab and king scallop fisheries are all currently being assessed for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation.

The field trip to Shetland, which will also involve a number of journalists from national and fisheries newspapers, is seen as an opportunity to showcase the local fishing industry.

The Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) applied for MSC accreditation in May 2010 and is expected to complete the assessments later this year.

Some parts of the isles’ herring and mackerel fisheries were MSC certified in 2008 and in 2009. The Shetland and Scottish rope grown shellfish industry are also going through the certification process.

SSMO project manager Jennifer Mouat said: “We are delighted to host this important event and have the opportunity to showcase some of the exciting and innovative projects which are taking place across the fishing industry in Shetland.

“We feel we are well placed to share our experiences of the MSC process and also to have the opportunity to explain our future management plans.”

The four MEPs visiting are former vice chairman of the European parliament’s fisheries committee Struan Stevenson, Chris Davis (north west England), Julie Girling (south west England) and Henri Malosse, the president of the employers group in the European economic and social committee.

They will visit the fish market in Lerwick and the NAFC Marine Centre to meet the scientists behind the research.

Later in the day, the MEPs will visit the Shetland Catch processing plant in Lerwick and go on a tour of the pelagic trawler Adenia, as part of the MSC certified Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group.