Development and Management of Crab Fisheries in Shetland, Scotland

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Shetland is an island community forming the most northerly part of Scotland.
From the late 1950s a commercial fishery for the edible crab (Cancer
pagurus) developed rapidly in Shetland, fueled by new markets and by a
transfer of fishing effort from more traditional fisheries. The 1970s saw a
steady decline in crab landings due to a transfer of fishing effort back to
demersal fisheries. The last two decades, however, have seen a fairly steady
increase in crab landings, which reached almost 600 t in 1997. This new
growth resulted primarily from an increase in the number of purposebuilt
crab-fishing vessels. Today almost 70% of the Shetland fishing fleet
targets crabs and lobsters. Most of these vessels are under 10 m in length
and most are operated by one man, often on a part-time basis. In the last
decade crab catches have been supplemented by the previously unexploited
velvet crab (Necora puber) and shore crab (Carcinus maenas).
The steady increase in crab catches and fishing effort during the 1980s
and 1990s gave rise to considerable local concern about the sustainability
of this fishery. In 1995, the local fishermen’s association and a number of
other interested local organizations came together to seek legal powers to
manage the local fisheries for crabs and other shellfish species. These
powers were eventually granted by the Scottish Government in 2000,
making Shetland the first community in Scotland granted powers to manage
a local fishery. Initial management measures focus on controlling levels
of fishing effort, and a scientific program is being established to provide
managers with necessary information on the status of shellfish stocks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrabs in Cold Water Regions
Subtitle of host publicationBiology, Management and Economics
Place of PublicationFairbanks, Alaska
PublisherUniversity of Alaska Sea Grant
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)1-56612-077-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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