Orkney shellfish research project to help siting of marine renewables Published: 31 January, 2013
Orkneys economy and environment are set to benefit from a ground-breaking new project aimed at helping the local creel fishery achieve recognition for its sustainable practices, while also collecting data to inform the siting of important marine renewables.
Inshore fishermen are taking part in an innovative four-year shellfish research project which should ultimately result in a more sustainable fishery by developing and implementing the on-going programme of rigorous stock assessment and monitoring.
The emerging marine renewables sector is also set to benefit with local boats being fitted with GPS to provide improved mapping of the seabed.
The project has been made possible thanks to the unique partnership of Marks and Spencer, the Crown Estate, Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands and the local fishery. WWF will also join this collaborative effort to support sustainable development in Scotland
As well as mapping the area, thousands of tagged brown crabs and juvenile lobsters will be released each year to allow monitoring of spawning migrations, which will also assist with the siting of marine renewables in the future.
Welcoming the innovative collaborative project, Stewart Crichton from the Orkney Fishermens Society Ltd said: Were delighted to be involved in this innovative and ground breaking research project. The key driver from the fishing industry side is the need to demonstrate to our customers and end consumers that we are conducting our fishery harvest strategy in a manner which is conducive to the long term health of the fishery.
The emerging marine energy sector has a need for good quality primary data on the inshore fisheries in the Pentland Firth and Orkney water, by combining the needs of the two sectors in one piece of research we are able to achieve synergies and deliver greater value for money.
Hannah Macintyre Aquaculture and Fisheries Sourcing Technologist from Marks & Spencer said: Were passionate about sustainable fishing at M&S and have been working with our supplier of Orkney crab for many years so it is fantastic to have the opportunity to work alongside Orkney Fishermens Society and WWF on such an exciting project. Orkney crab are creel caught, a highly sustainable method of fishing with low environmental impact and little to no bycatch and the fishermen themselves are dedicated to further improving the sustainability of their fishery.
The tidal flow between the Atlantic and North Sea makes for superb quality crab – just what were looking for – and its this tidal exchange that also makes Orkney an ideal spot for marine renewables.
Our customers love the hand-picked white crab meat, really valuing the Orkney provenance, and this project means they can continue enjoying Orkney crab long into the future.
Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland said: This is a really exciting project that could deliver for the people of Orkney a double win of a profitable, sustainable fishery as well as clean, green marine power industry. Were right behind the efforts of all those involved in trying to develop a sustainable fishery and their vision to explore what synergies might be achievable with a quickly developing renewable sector.
This is WWFs first project on Orkney brown crab fisheries and were delighted to be working alongside the Orkney Fishermens Society and M&S to protect the marine environment and improve the sustainability of all fisheries.
Alongside energy saving measures, marine renewables will have a critical role to play in helping Scotland reduce climate emissions. We believe that through careful planning and initiatives like the one on Orkney, we can harness Scotland’s wave and tidal energy to help cut our climate emissions, while safeguarding the nation’s tremendous marine environment.”