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World first eco tag for isles’ shellfish

SHETLAND’s inshore fishermen are the first in the world to receive the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for their sustainable fishing methods.

The certification will be presented on Wednesday by fishing minister Richard Lochhead in the Ondine restaurant, in Edinburgh.

Jennifer Mouat, of the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation, has travelled to Edinburgh to accept the document on behalf of the SSMO’s 120 members.

It has taken the organisation more than two years to qualify for the MSC eco label that proves traceability, transparency and sustainability for locally caught brown and velvet crabs, and dredged scallops.

Shetland was given Scotland’s first regulating order, in 2001, to give local fishermen the power to look after their own inshore fishery.

Ms Mouat said most buyers today looked for MSC certification to satisfy their consumers.

“This is really future proofing, it will help maintain the markets we have at the moment and hopefully open up a few others,” she said.

“It means a great deal for Shetland and the local inshore fishery and we are proud that we have done this.”

Congratulating the SSMO, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said: “I hope this brings better prices and new markets to Shetland’s inshore fishermen.

“They have achieved this accreditation at a very important time, as it is a very visible illustration of all the good things that are going on in the local fishing industry.”

The shellfish sector is worth around £7 million a year, a tiny fraction of the isles’ seafood industry, said to be worth in the region of £300 million.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021