Scalloway’s NAFC Marine Centre is to receive £150,000 of Scottish government funding to examine how more fish stocks can be caught in a sustainable fashion.
The cash award, to be disbursed over three years, is in recognition of the crucial role played by the centre in helping the Shetland king scallop, velvet crab and brown crab inshore fisheries become the first in the world to gain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation earlier this month.
Sustainable status is highly prized because it means the produce will attract a premium in the marketplace.
The announcement was made by Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochhead on a visit to the centre today.
He said: “Shetland and the college here are blazing a trail in terms of fisheries management. Inshore fisheries is very important to Shetland – it’s worth about £7 million a year.
“We have to make sure that fishery is sustainable for future generations.
“The fishermen themselves have brought forward their own management measures working with the college and others and that has now meant MSC status has actually been awarded to our king scallops and our velvet and brown crabs, which are very important species locally and very important economically as well as bringing food to tables in this country but abroad as well.
“It’s a fantastic endorsement of the really good fisheries management work being done here in Shetland.”
Jennifer Mouat, Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) fisheries manager, added: “The MSC process has been a long, complex and sometimes difficult process but the NAFC Marine Centre has remained fully committed during the entire process.
“Their ability to work with industry in a way that removes rather than builds builds barriers has been an important part of this national success story, and shows that applied and well-communicated science can inform local management of resources in a very effective way.
“The MSC is one of the many initiatives in which we are engaging with NAFC Marine Centre, and we look forward to many more shared successes.”
Martin Robinson, head of marine science and technology at NAFC added: “The award the ministry has announced today is something we’ve been working with the Scottish government team for a while on.
“They have recognised the unique nature of what has been achieved in Shetland which is the scientists and managers and all local stakeholders coming together to look fisheries management.
“It informs the whole process, the science isn’t done in isolation. It is actually plugging into the management. They have been quite impressed by that approach, it’s value for money and it is effective.
“What they want to do with the award is to take this message out wider to other fishery areas in Scotland. We can up the value of those fisheries and make sure they are sustainable.”
The announcement was made on the day that it emerged the MSC is to withdraw sustainable fishery status from mackerel caught in the North Sea and Atlantic after huge quota hikes by Faroe and Iceland.