Shetland Fishermen’s Association members meeting UK Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis who visited the Isles this week

Shetland Fishermen’s Association members meeting UK Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis who visited the Islands this week

Shetland Fishermen’s Association hosted UK fisheries minister Victoria Prentis this week as she visited the isles to find out more about the issues facing our fishing communities.

The Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, heard first-hand about some of the main challenges facing Shetland’s fishing fleet and wider seafood industry.

She also announced new funding through the government’s £100 million UK Seafood Fund, which will be used to help scientists monitor ling stocks in the North Sea. The project – undertaken by the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scalloway – will mark the first steps in addressing the “data deficient” status of the species, which has historically been an important component of the Shetland fleet’s catch.

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Meeting fishing crews from whitefish and pelagic vessels, Ms Prentis was told about the growing concerns around inadequate scientific fish stock surveys, the increasing “spatial squeeze” at sea due to planned offshore wind farms or protected areas, and the ongoing strife caused by ruinously high fuel prices.

SFA executive officer Sheila Keith said:

“Shetland’s fishing industry bucks many national trends: with young skippers and crews, investment in new vessels, a commitment to science-backed sustainable fishing and a family-owned ethos that forms the foundation of our island economy.

“Fishing in Shetland isn’t some historic pastime, and it will hold the key to our future prosperity as well if the industry is well managed and protected. Decisions taken in London or Edinburgh don’t just affect fishing crews, but our entire community.

“Our members welcomed the dynamic interest, ideas and support on offer from the visiting DEFRA team, evidenced by the very welcome news of funding for UHI’s important project on ling.”

Victoria Prentis said:

“I was delighted to meet with the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation and local fishermen to hear about their experiences and provide an update on the £100m UK Seafood Fund.

“As we shape a sustainable fishing industry equipped for the future, it is vital for government and industry to come together to overcome the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead.”

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