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Shetland’s seafood industry – which is worth £300 million a year to the islands and surpasses the value of the oil, gas, agriculture, tourism, and creative industries combined – is launching a major promotion to build awareness of its social and economic impact.

Under the project title ‘So Much to Sea’, a series of community events built around an exhibition, a new film, and wider promotions aims to generate a greater understanding of what the seafood industry means to our communities and how it influences Shetland as a whole.

As well as drawing out the history and heritage of the Shetland seafood industry, the main themes featured in the ‘So Much to Sea’ initiative include its role now and in the future, fishing and aquaculture production in Shetland, and Shetland seafood as a sustainable food choice.

Seafood tastings and music will also feature in the project, while schools throughout the isles have also been invited to get involved through, for example, creative arts, home economics, history or science-related projects.

An exhibition of a selection of school students’ work will be displayed at Shetland Museum and Archives in June. This will be part of a wider celebration of Shetland seafood, to coincide with Shetland Catch’s 25th anniversary The community events will kick off in Bigton Hall on Saturday 15 February. ‘So much to sea’ will then move to Burra on Saturday 22 Feburary, Walls on Saturday 1 March, Vidlin on 8 March, Cullivoe on Friday 21 March, and Symbister on Saturday 29 March. The £74,000 project has received 74 per cent funding through Axis 4, as part of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

Matching funding has been provided by Seafood Shetland, Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation, Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation, Shetland Aquaculture Trust, and Hunter and Morrison Trust. Chief Executive of Seafood Shetland, Ruth Henderson, said: “The long and extraordinary story of Shetland’s seafood industry – and the massive impact it has had and continues to have on our way of life – is a story that deserves to be well told and passed on to new generations. This is a thriving and hugely significant industry which has a wonderful future, so we are delighted to be increasing people’s awareness through the ‘So Much to Sea’ exhibition, a great new film, and other initiatives which are not only informative but entertaining.

“We are also delighted to have been granted Axis 4 funding, through Shetland’s Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) to allow us to carry out this project in line with FLAG’s remit to share ideas and experiences and engage in co-operative projects that contribute to sustainable development.”

For further information, please contact: Ruth Henderson, Seafood Shetland, tel: +44 (0)1595 693644 or email:

Notes to Editor:

Axis 4 of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) was launched in Scotland in January 2012 to provide up to £7.6 million to local Scottish fishing communities affected by a decline in fishing activities.
12 local authorities across Scotland are participating.
£4.2 million of funding (based on Euro exchange rates in January 2012) has been accessed by the Scottish Government under Axis 4 of the EFF. To access the funds, local authorities (or other public bodies) are required to provide additional funding (on a 25/75 basis for Highlands and Islands and a 50/50 basis for rest of Scotland). If the full £4.2 million available is allocated, this will bring the total to £7.57 million. The EFF funding is divided into two main allocations – £1.3m for councils in Highlands & Islands (Shetland, Highland, Western Isles and Argyll & Bute)
Shetland is one of 11 councils who have created Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) to consider applications and decide how the funding will be allocated locally. By allocating funding at a local level, communities are empowered to only back projects that improve quality of life and deliver genuine benefits for the local community.