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New conservation measures for Orkney shellfish

Published: 2 Oct 2015 10:00

Fisheries Secretary announces measures to protect local crab and lobster stocks.

Orkney shellfish will be protected through new conservation measures announced by Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead today.

Following a 12 week consultation, the Scottish Government will move to introduce measures developed 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 65 mm to 70 mm
• lobster from 87 to 90 mm over two years

A minimum landing size will be introduced for green crab to be set at 70 mm, and a restriction on the landing of berried (egg bearing) velvet crab.

The new measures are due to come into force from early 2016 to help protect the breeding stock and increase yield and egg production.

Mr Lochhead said:

"Shellfish are highly important to the Orkney economy, with local fishermen catching £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.

"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."

Fiona Matheson, Secretary of the Orkney Fisheries Association, said:

"Orkney Fisheries Association are working to improve prices for fishermen and also ensure a healthy abundant stock is there to fish. Increasing the minimum landing size is one tool to achieving that end which we have been glad to support and promote with support from our membership."

Notes to editors

More information is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/10/4614