NAFC launches new brown crab tagging programme –

NAFC launches new brown crab tagging programme Published:  23 January, 2008

A NEW brown crab tagging programme has just been launched by the NAFC Marine Centre’s Marine Science and Technology team to find out how far brown crabs travel around Shetland and if they are found on different fishing grounds at different times of the year.

The project’s main tagging areas are located within the six mile limit off the west coast of Shetland and also offshore to the west of Foula. Crabs used in the study will have a bright yellow tag on one of their claws displaying a unique tag number and contact information.

Leading the project, shellfish biologist Dr Beth Leslie said: “Female brown crabs are thought to undergo a migration between inshore and offshore areas as part of their reproductive cycle.

“The return of catch data from this tagging programme will help us to confirm if this pattern occurs around Shetland.

“This is of particular interest to us as the stocks within six miles are locally managed and we have good data on catches and fishing effort for the managed area. If brown crabs do travel outwith this zone, they could be subject to additional fishing effort that is not included in the current stock assessments.

“That is why the data we are about to collect will not only tell us a great deal about the biology and distribution of local crab stocks, but will also help to inform sustainable management of the fishery.”

Funding support for this project was provided through the EU Community Economic Development Grant and the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation.

If fishermen catch any of these tagged crabs they are requested to pass on the tag number, along with the place and date caught to:

Dr Beth Leslie

NAFC Marine Centre

Port Arthur





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