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Marine protection

King scallop. Photo DOENI

SHETLAND’S scallop fishing industry has praised the work of the local NAFGC Marine Centre after new boundaries were set for the inshore fishery.

The scallop industry nationwide has come under intense scrutiny through celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s campaign for sustainable fishing through his Hugh’s Fish Fight series on Channel4.

This week the chef told Shetland News that the islands set an example other areas should follow in their approach to marine conservation.

On Wednesday the NAFC Marine Centre highlighted the latest moves in its industry-science partnership that earned the local king scallop fishery Marine Stewardship Council accreditation last year.

SSMO manager Jenny Mowat, Scottish fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead and NAFC head of science Martin Robinson receiving MSC accreditation for Shetland's king scallop fishery. Photo SN

Head of marine science and technology Dr Martin Robinson said new boundaries to prevent scallop dredging had been set to protect 15 locations covering 20 square kilometres around Shetland’s coast.

Biogenic reefs formed by EU habitats directive-listed species such as horse mussel, coralline maerl and eel grass will be left unharmed by the move.

Extra surveys were carried out by NAFC staff after doubts were raised when the initial boundaries were drawn two years ago.

Robinson said the move demonstrated the value of Shetland’s unique regulating order that allows local management of inshore fishing.

“Science and industry has worked very closely together to provide this very positive outcome, one which has been delivered through honest and open local stakeholder engagement,” he said.

Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation chairman Ian Walterson said the local industry was proud to show how to positively manage the fishery at a time of “less than positive” media attention.