In 2010, the department worked with the local Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation to establish voluntary closed areas for scallop dredge fishing to allow fishermen to avoid sensitive habitats as defined in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive. In the case of the inshore waters around Shetland, this included maerl, horse mussel and eelgrass.
The department then used its sidescan sonar and drop camera equiment to accurately map the extent of these types of habitat as detailed in the Shetland Islands' Marine Spatial Plan (SIMSP). As there are 100 more 'indicative' reports of these types of habitat around Shetland, the department will continue to survey and publish data when the opportunity to do so arises. As the department also administers the Marine Plan, there is a good mechanism to get the data into the public domain.