The Marine Scotland research vessel Alba na Mara which took part in the Sheltand scallop assessment. Photo: Marine Scotland
An assessment of Shetland scallop was the focus of the Marine Research Vessel Alba na Mara’s most recent survey.
The stock assessments of scallop stocks undertaken by Marine Scotland Science (MSS) use data on the age structure of stocks, which are estimated from scallops sampled at fish markets and processors and in the MSS scallop dredge survey.
Working out of Lerwick for six days then to Sullum Voe to cover the Yell Sound and Scalloway, Marine Scotland Science colleagues completed 37 stations.
After fishing was completed scientists returned to port where catch from the day was worked up in the wet lab, with an additional scientist boarding each night to help. On a normal pre-Covid survey catch would be worked up and sampled on board at the same time as the next station was fished, but now the sampling and work up must be done in port with less staff.
COVID-19 rules were followed throughout the survey with reduced staff numbers on board the ship, social distancing, individual meal-times and face coverings. To mitigate the use of shared cabins, some crew and scientific staff were also based in self-catering accommodation in Lerwick.
Colleagues were only able to age, measure and sample scallops for the stock assessment on this survey and dropped all other work such as the recording of bycatch and starfish – this meant sampling fewer stations within the available survey time.
The Shetland survey took a lot of planning, but required flexibility, resulting in shorter fishing days and of course you could not control the weather!
The survey has now been completed and the vessel is currently steaming for Fraserburgh. Scientific staff return to Aberdeen via the Shetland ferry on 09 February.