The Orkney Sustainable Fisheries brown crab creel fishery has reached another milestone on its journey towards certification as a sustainable source of seafood. The fishery will formally enter full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard by independent experts over the coming months.
The fishery is of huge economic significance to Orkney. It accounts for around a quarter of Scotland’s total brown crab catch and provides around 250 direct jobs in the local fishing community. Average annual landings of brown crab over the last thirty years have been more than 2000 tonnes.
A Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) was established in the fishery in 2012 with the aim of working towards MSC certification. The FIP has now been completed and the fishery has entered assessment stage, where if it meets the standard, it could achieve MSC certification within the next year or so.
‘Our scientists, supported by local fishermen, have worked very hard for a number of years to increase our understanding and knowledge of local shellfish stocks. I hope the MSC certification process will endorse this work,’ said Stewart Crichton, Orkney Fishermen’s Society MD and Chairman of Orkney Sustainable Fisheries.
The participants involved in the FIP include Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd, Orkney Fishermen’s Society, Crown Estate, Orkney Islands Council, Marks & Spencer, Marine Scotland, WWF and Young’s Seafood.
‘We’re absolutely delighted that the hard work of the Orkney fishery has finally been recognised and rewarded,’ commented David Parker, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Young’s Seafood.
‘Young’s are incredibly grateful that the fishery’s commitment to sustainability will ensure that Orkney crab will be available both now, and for generations to come.’
The FIP participants have been supporting the fishery to become more sustainable through a range of activities, including scientific research to understand the biology of the brown crab, advocating improvements to the fisheries management system and financial contributions. MSC has supported through the provision of expertise on the application of the MSC standard and use of FIP tools.
This was the first FIP in the UK to use the MSC Benchmarking and Tracking Tool to provide quantifiable data for measuring improvements in its sustainability performance.