Shellfish Fisheries Research


The shellfish team support one of the most studied and well managed inshore fisheries in Europe. 

Our shellfish programme provides stock assessments and carries out applied research to support the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) in their decision making.  To do this a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation programme has been carried out since 2000, and continues to produce spatially referenced fisheries data.

There are two main types of data collected to inform the stock assessments; fisheries information, which includes catch and effort data from fishermen’s logbooks; and biological data collected from observer trips on commercial vessels, by sampling at processing factories and vivier operators and through targeted survey work using our own research vessels.  This data is analysed using a range of techniques in order to provide the SSMO with the best possible advice on the status of the stocks, and information relevant to their management reference points.

The scientific work carried out at the NAFC Marine Centre has underpinned MSC accreditation for Shetlands crab and scallop fisheries, highlighting sustainability and good practice.


Research and development projects are carried out are both to inform the stock assessment and management processes, and also to support the activity of local fishermen.  Some examples include:

  • Investigations into the spatial variability of velvet crabs
  • Brown crab tagging
  • Size at maturity in the common whelk
  • Investigation into the use of escape gaps in velvet crabs

Part of our work has involved collaboration with external partners (OLSPS) to develop a bespoke fisheries data management system for the SSMO to allow them real time access to all fisheries data in a way that facilitates effective fisheries management.