Orkney brown crab (Cancer pagurus) is a high value product sold throughout the UK in supermarkets such as Waitrose, M&S, Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda and Lidl. Much like Scottish lobster and langoustine, Orkney crab is marketed under a premium brand, but unlike lobster and langoustine, which is exported to the continent, a large proportion of brown crab is consumed in the UK. Orkney brown crab is sourced in seas adjacent to Orkney and further afield from a range of Scottish vessels, which include large crabbers as well as small creel vessels (~60) who also target lobster (Homarus gammarus) and velvet swimming crab (Necora puber).
Within these crabbing waters is an area defined as the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area ( PFOW-SA) ( Figure 1), as defined by the Crown Estate, which holds some of the best marine energy resources in Scotland and is of high commercial interest for wave and tidal development. These waters are also an important factor in the Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland economy for established businesses and for the well-being of the people that live in these areas (and others throughout Scotland). To assess these interests the pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters ( PFOW) Marine Spatial Plan ( MSP) is being produced to balance future opportunities with the needs of existing users whilst protecting the marine environment.
The draft pilot PFOW-MSP is due for consultation in early 2015. This plan will be accompanied by a suite of evidence documents, including a Strategic Environmental Assessment ( SEA), a Habitat Regulations Appraisal ( HRA) and a Socio-Economic Assessment. The latter of these will consist of a range of information, including the estimated impact of the MSP upon current users and uses of the surrounding seas. This work will contribute to the Socio-Economic Assessment by providing a detailed analysis of the value that marine species caught within PFOW-SA provide to onshore processing in Orkney and also the Northern Highlands through the port of Scrabster. This report looks at crustaceans (mainly brown crab) which supports Orkney-based onshore processors and demersal white fish, which are landed in Scrabster.
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