Government launches protection measures for Scottish shellfish
Shellfish in the Orkney Islands, off the northeast coast of Scotland, will be protected through new conservation measures announced by Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Following a 12-week consultation, Scottish Government is introducing instruments proposed by the Orkney fishing industry to improve the management of its local shellfish stocks.
The minimum landing sizes for two of the area’s key shellfish species are to be increased: Velvet crab from 65mm to 70mm; and lobster from 87mm to 90 mm over two years.
In addition, a minimum landing size of 70mm will be introduced for green crab, and there will be a restriction on the landing of berried (egg bearing) velvet crab.
The new measures are set to come into force from early 2016 to help protect the breeding stock and increase yield and egg production.
“Shellfish are highly important to the Orkney economy, with local fishermen catching GBP 7 million (EUR 9.5 million; USD 10.7 million) worth on average each year. The new measures being introduced will help to protect some of their most valuable crab and lobster stocks,” said Lochhead.
The minister added that these measures, along with similar ones now in effect in the Outer Hebrides, demonstrate how government and local fishing interests can work together to bring forward sustainable management for Scotland’s inshore fisheries.
Stewart Crichton, chair of Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd., said, “Research has shown that increasing minimum landing size can have a significant impact on abundance of stock. I also think it offers a distinct marketing advantage, particularly at times of over-supply, and in turn will ensure better prices for fishermen.”