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New licences plan on hold

The Mari Dawn shellfish boat.

SHETLAND Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) has put plans to issue new shellfish licences on hold due to concerns over scallop stocks and the collapse of the market for brown crab.

The organisation, which manages the inshore fishery around the islands, had hoped to be able to offer new licences for all species apart from velvet crab, which is currently going through stock rebuilding.

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But SSMO coordinator Carol Laignel said: “We had been planning to issue some species specific licences early next year.

“But unfortunately the latest stock assessment suggests that scallop stocks will decline next year.

“In addition, although brown crab stocks seem quite healthy, ironically the market for this product has collapsed both locally and nationally.

“This leaves the board with no option but to delay the licensing round until at least early next year.”

Around 2,000 tonnes-worth of shellfish with a value of £3.9million was landed in Shetland during 2013 according to figures compiled at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway.

In March 2012 the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced that the three main species of the fishery – scallops, brown crab and velvet crab – had been declared sustainable.

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