Shellfish stocks in the Outer Hebrides are to be protected through new conservation measures introduced by the Scottish Government today.
The controls, which were developed by the local fishing industry, will help to protect the future of crab and lobster catches that are worth an average £2.7 million to the local economy every year.
From today the minimum landing size of key shellfish species will be increased as follows:
- brown crab from 140 mm to 150 mm
- velvet crab from 65 mm to 70 mm
- lobster from 87 mm to 90 mm over two years
The landing of female lobster larger than 145 mm and those missing one or both claws will also be restricted.
Commenting on the new order, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Shellfish are very important to the local economy of the Outer Hebrides, with local fishermen landing on average £2.7 million of crab and lobster each year. The management measures coming into force will help in securing the long-term sustainability of these stocks.
“This order is a great example of what can be accomplished when local fishing interests and government work together, and demonstrates how Scottish fishermen are leading the way in Europe with their commitment to sustainable practices.”
Duncan MacInnes, Secretary, Western Isles Fishermen’s Association said: “We are pleased that implementation of management measures identified in the Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Group management plan are now being enshrined in legislation. Increasing shellfish minimum landing size provides predicted increases in yield and egg production which will result in increased profitability for fishermen in the short to medium term.
“In addition, no new additional resources will be required, as both industry and enforcement officials are all familiar with compliance procedures already in place for enforcing minimum and maximum landing sizes.”