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Brown crab tagging image by Clarus Chu

Research project records Orkney fishing patterns

Research project records Orkney fishing patterns

A four-year research project has recorded the interplay between Orkney’s fishing industry and the anticipated needs of the growing offshore renewables sector.

The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Fisheries Data Collection project ran from 2013 until the end of 2016. The final results have since been collated and wil be available soon.

It's expected that the data will be used to inform Marine Scotland strategy, and referred to for future area consents regarding offshore renewables. Another part of the project will also be used to support certification of Orkney shellfish as a sustainable source.

The research aimed to identify the key areas for the Orkney creel fishery, the spatial patterns of the fishery and to record this information in a way that would make it accessible to marine developers or similar bodies.

A number of fishing vessels were supplied with electronic navigation systems to plot details of fishing grounds, routes to them, species caught and other detail, along with more general landing data from the wider fishing fleet in and around Orkney.

The research was principally funded by our predecessor organisation The Crown Estate, along with additional funding from Orkney Islands Council, Marks & Spencer, Orkney Sustainable Fisheries and Marine Scotland. Orkney Fisheries Association endorsed the work and its members took part in the research.

Results show a highly seasonal pattern of fishing activity around Orkney, dependent on both weather and species targeted.

John Robertson, Crown Estate Scotland's Senior Manager for Energy & Infrastructure said: “We felt it was important to undertake this research to gather information that will help Orkney’s traditional marine industries coexist alongside emerging renewables opportunities. Having now built up a significant database, this information can underpin marine policy and strategy for these important waters.

“Participation from within Orkney’s fleet of fishing vessels was a vital part of the research, and we appreciate their time and interest in this research across what was a lengthy period.”