Fears over velvet crab fishing ban

Moves to ban velvet crab fishing for two months have left the Shetland Shellfish Managment Organisation (SSMO) backpedalling, with the board due to meet yesterday (Thursday) to reconsider the decision.

The review comes as one international buyer has warned of long-term effects for Shetland’s shellfish exports if the ban goes ahead. Emilio Rivera fears that without velvet crab landings throughout the summer his organisation, Imex International, would not be able to justify sending trucks to Shetland to purchase shellfish for export to mainland Europe.

He also warns that once the trucks leave for another UK fishmarket they are unlikely to return once the ban is lifted. Velvet crab brought around £350,000 to the Shetland economy in 2016, while the shellfish industry as a whole was worth over £5 million to the isles in the same period.

The decision, which had been taken to protect the species at “the times of year when they’re soft and moulting”, has met particularly stiff criticism from one creel fisherman, who has called for the board’s chairman and vice-chairman to “stand down”.

However, the board’s chairman has hit back at this demand and indicated a willingness to listen to feedback from fishermen and buyers.

• For full story see this week’s Shetland Times


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • March 2nd, 2018 19:19

    ‘ The decision, which had been taken to protect the species at “ the times of year when they’re soft and moulting ” ‘

    I am intrigued as to what part of the ‘ protection of stocks ‘ is not understood in regard to sustaining the industry or is it profits and greed taking priority?

    Surely, if you want to sustain and make the industry more lucrative and longer lasting, conservation, monitoring and protecting the ‘ velvet crab ‘ must be a priority…………or is it ‘ the quick buck mentality ‘ taking a greater priority?

  • Gregory Martin

    • March 3rd, 2018 13:39

    The only reason there is a market for the velvet swimming crab (a species once considered a “pest”) is because other European countries have over-fished it to near extinction in their waters. Shetland cannot sustain that size of market without over-fishing this species out of existence around our shores. We should just accept selling less, a lower profit, and keep the stocks sustainable for future generations.

    • David Spence

      • March 4th, 2018 21:34

      I totally agree with your comments, Gregory.

      I do not know much about fishing for velvet crabs or other species of crustaceans, but as you have mentioned Gregory, other countries have over fished their stocks, and surely this must be a sign for fishermen here to take action to try and preserve local stocks?

      In regards to Brex*hit, I fear this will have a massive impact on fishing for velvet crabs and other crustaceans, as the UK fights to gain markets lost due to the UK leaving the EU, and this may force over fishing of stocks due to these markets, EU, being lost? Unless, of course, the UK government can agree some form of trade deal with the EU? Unfortunately, it looks like this government will be happy with a no deal arrangement?

      Whether the US market is a lucrative business remains to be seen? The whole purpose for having the EU Ref. as far as I can see, and nothing to do with trading with the rest of the world, which the UK could do any way.

      May be you may know what fishing deal the UK, has negotiated with the EU and Scandinavian countries, Gregory?

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 5th, 2018 11:48

        Correct David you know nothing about fishing and even less about fish sales. Brexit is a huge opportunity not just for the catching sector but the processing sector too. China is a huge market and it is just one of the many many markets outside the EU that will be falling over themselves to buy quality seafood, without the restrictions on trade imposed by the EU.

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