A Shetland-based research centre will provide more support for sustainable fisheries, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

Scientific research by the NAFC Marine Shetland was critical for Shetland king scallops, brown and velvet crab becoming the first fisheries of their kind in the world to be certified as sustainably managed by the Marine Stewardship Council this month.

On a visit to the NAFC, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead announced £150,000 investment over the next three years to support the Centre’s research work.

Mr Lochhead said: “The pristine waters around Shetland produce some of the world’s highest quality seafood – and shellfish in particular. It’s an outstanding achievement therefore for Shetland to achieve MSC status for three fisheries, which I’m sure will deliver an economic boost for the Isles in the coming years.

“However, this would not have been possible without the application from the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation being underpinned by the scientific research carried out at the NAFC Marine Centre.

“This funding will help the NAFC work with more fishermen and conduct research into how stocks can be sustainably managed and harvested. That’s going to be increasingly crucial as we move towards a reformed Common Fisheries Policy that will need to be underpinned by the best possible science.

“Scottish and sustainable: that’s the mantra we must promote for our seafood, and scientific research has a key role to play in our journey to a fully sustainable industry known across the world for its quality products. Fishermen, researchers and academics are all critical as we continue to work towards making this a reality for Scotland.”

Dr. Martin Robinson, Head of Marine Science and Technology at NAFC, added: “The MSC awards passed to the SSMO by the Minister last week were the culmination of a long process of building solid working relationships between industry and applied scientists to deliver robust, locally informed stakeholder management. Transparent communication and an understanding of all stakeholders’ perceptions are at the heart of the success.

“We are delighted by the announcement made by the Cabinet Secretary on his important visit to Shetland, and look forward to working with wider industry and the Scottish Government to position our nation’s products in the premium marketplaces that they deserve.”

The NAFC Marine Centre, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, delivers marine research to support maritime affairs in Shetland. Their services include research and development, training, support for industry growth and community engagement.