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Mapping Economic Value Of Shellfish Fisheries

by the Fish Site Editor
07 April 2011, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND, UK - The Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) and the NAFC Marine Centre have announced plans to gather information from local fishermen to construct new maps in the Shetland Marine Spatial Plan, which will be used to communicate the interests of local fishermen more widely.

Although the Plan already contains detailed information on the distribution of shellfisheries around Shetland, it does not provide any information on the areas that are most important in terms of the economic and social sustainability of the sector and wider Shetland.

The Spatial Plan, which can be downloaded at http://www.nafc.ac.uk/Marine-Atlas-Data-Downloads.aspx, is increasingly used as a planning tool for new developments and it is hoped that it will be formally adopted by Shetland Islands Council as such later this year.

Commenting on the initiative, SSMO’s executive officer, Jennifer Mouat, said: “The compilation of such data is very important for ensuring that the interests and rights of fishermen are proactively protected as multiple stakeholder management becomes the norm (as is currently being piloted elsewhere in Scotland as IFG).

“In Shetland, we already have the advantage of a very mature and detailed Marine Spatial Plan, and the supplemental data we will now be gathering will be available to lobby on behalf of fishermen when new developments are proposed within the marine environment. For example, it is currently possible to describe the importance of an area in terms of the shellfish that are taken from it each year if a proposed energy development, marine protected area or other reason was proposed to restrict access to it, but it would not be possible to say what the social impact would be in terms of sustaining employment, families and communities. We want to be able to proactively provide such information so that we can best represent our members’ interests.”

The need for such a development was highlighted in a recent independent review of the Scottish fishing industry ‘The Future of Fisheries Management in Scotland’ which stated, ‘A major challenge facing the future of fisheries management is the concept of integrated management (IM). It involves a coordinated and planned approach to managing the multiple uses of the marine environment in ways that maximise the benefits of exploiting marine resources by seeking to optimise across different priorities. Hitherto, the fishing industry has enjoyed the luxury of sectoral management that has left it relatively unscathed by the low levels of competition for marine space; today it faces increasing competition, notably from environmental conservation and the renewable energy industry.’

Head of Marine Science and Technology at the NAFC Marine Centre, Dr Martin Robinson, added: “The information that SSMO members will be asked to submit will be entirely anonymous and therefore forms that are returned will not be linked to an individual. The intention is to use ten simple questions to profile the social value and importance of the sector so that it can be more strongly lobbied for, not to reveal details about individuals or to alter access rights in any way.

“For each SSMO management square (5 x 5 nautical miles) we will be able to give developers an idea of the value of shellfish taken from the area and the number of people in Shetland that are supported by it, both fishermen and their dependants, but neither the SSMO nor the NAFC Marine Centre will know the identity of the respondents. The approach has been taken so that respondents can be sure the mapping exercise is the only outcome of this transparent study, and that it is solely for the benefit of all participants in this sector.”

the Fish Site Editor