The waters around the Shetland islands yield a bountiful harvest of shellfish, including brown crab and king scallops, both of which have been certified as sustainable since 2012.
Run by the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO), the fishery manages its own inshore shellfish fisheries out to a six-mile limit through a Regulating Order. Working closely with Shetland UHI (previously the NAFC Marine Centre) on scientific evidence of stock management, this proactive management approach has led to some positive developments in managing and sustaining this important fishery.
Brown crabs (often known as edible crabs) make up the largest crab fishery in Western Europe, with more than 60,000 tonnes caught annually, mostly around the coast of the British Isles. They’re caught in baited creels or pots. Females (hens) are caught on softer sandy habitats and are associated with richer brown meat. Males (cocks) are caught on rockier substrate and tend to have more of the sweet white meat. Crabs are fished year round though fewer fishing trips take place in Winter due to difficult weather conditions. The live shellfish are landed and sold to local retailers as well as being exported to France and Spain.
Small inshore vessels use specialised dredges to catch king scallops within the six-mile limit, with harvests closely monitored. Scallops are brought ashore alive before being collected by processors to be shucked, packed and distributed both locally and across the UK.
Brown crabs are caught in baited creels or pots. The pots are deployed on the seafloor for between 1 and 5 days before being hauled aboard a boat to be harvested and re-baited. Click on the image below to learn more.
scallops are caught using dredges, rigid structures that are towed along the seabed. The use of specific mesh sizes and escape panels prevents any undersized or non-target species being retained. Click on the image to learn more.
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