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Working Together/Protecting our Seas

One of the Shetland seafood industry’s main strengths is the close working relationship between its fishermen and scientists which ensures the seas around Shetland are protected and sustainable for future generations.

Direct collaboration between industry stakeholders and UHI Shetland (NAFC Marine Centre) in Scalloway means that applied research projects are initiated to address real issues faced by our coastal communities.

A range of collaborative fishing-related projects has been carried out over the years, including: trialing new equipment, tagging fish to learn more about their movements and growth, surveying the abundance of fish and shellfish, collecting fisheries data, mapping areas important to fishermen, assessing the carbon footprint of fishing, and species specific studies.

In aquaculture, collaborative projects have included seaweed cultivation, sea lice bioassay, the use of cleaner fish, and mussel cultivation.


In 2012 Shetland achieved a world first for its three main inshore shellfish fisheries, achieving full MSC certification for brown crab, velvet crab and dredged king scallops.

MSC certification for brown crab and dredged king scallops remain in place today.

Close links between fishermen and scientists at UHI Shetland (NAFC Marine Centre) have generated many years of valuable scientific and fisheries data, which is used to manage the fishery, giving the industry the competitive edge when undergoing the MSC assessment process.


Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is all about setting global standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. Assessed by a team of independent auditors the label demands that:

  • Fishing activity must be a sustainable level
  • Minimised environmental impact
  • Effectively managed fisheries

The MSC label guarantees a link with the specific fishery and is proof that it is from a sustainable, well-managed source.


Leading the way in fisheries management

The Scottish Ministers granted Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) the power to regulate its own inshore fisheries – out to a six mile limit. This means that only our licensed inshore vessels can fish in these waters. SSMO works closely with Shetland UHI (NAFC Marine Centre) to maintain healthy scallop and crab fisheries. This includes examining data, and tracking vessel movements. The SSMO has the power to close areas, when necessary, to ensure that it is never over fished. This regulating order was the first of its kind in Scotland and is considered an exemplary means of marine management.