Orkney Crab Orkney is home to one of the largest brown crab fishery in the UK, responsible for up to a quarter of the entire annual Scottish brown crab catch. With simple lines of crab 'pots' or ‘creels’ strung out on the sea bed, it's a fishery that's already pretty low-impact in environmental terms - but, as one skipper says: "Now is exactly the time for us to taking steps to keep it sustainable."
That's why M&S is helping to fund the pioneering Fishery Improvement Project. Working with Orkney Sustainable Fisheries and WWF, we're supporting the local fishermen of Orkney in recording the size, numbers and location of crabs, as well as any marine life accidentally caught in the pots. Thousands of crabs are also being tagged and released back into the sea to find out more about their movements. In time, the data can be used to help develop a harvesting strategy that help protect the marine environment, sustain the fishery, and support the livelihoods of Orkney fishermen and coastal communities long into the future.
The project forms part of a wider initiative backed by Marine Scotland and the Crown Estate; work which includes tracking the crab boats’ locations and routes using GPS. By establishing where the important sites for crabs are, these and other sensitive areas can be avoided when it comes to the deployment of renewable devices. Orkney is a hive of activity when it comes to renewables - in fact, it's home to the greatest concentration of experimental wave and tidal power devices anywhere in the world. With data from this and other projects, by the end of this decade it's possible Orkney will become the global launch pad for dozens of commercially-viable, pollution-free wave and tidal power devices.
It's pretty amazing to think that a study about the humble brown crab could end up not only helping the people of Orkney have a profitable, sustainable fishery, but to become a clean, green marine power industry.