The SFA was permanently established in 1947 and is principally a lobbying group, which promotes the interests of its members locally, with governments in Edinburgh and London and in international fisheries organisations. It represents everything from small shellfish boats to large pelagic vessels, and is thus widely recognised as the voice of Shetland fishermen.
The SFPO was created in 1982 to administer the then EEC market support system, but quickly progressed to manage the quota system, which prescribes how much of particular types of fish can be caught, locally. Over the years the organisation has bought a significant amount of fish quota on its members’ behalf. The SFPO also plays a vital role in marketing Shetland fish around the world.
With more than 170 commercial fishing vessels in Shetland, with almost 1,000 local jobs in or linked to fishing and with more than £100 million worth of fish landed in 2019 (almost one quarter of the Scottish catch and one sixth of the UK catch), the industry is as vital as ever to the economy of the isles. It is estimated to account for around one-third of Shetland’s GDP.
The pages in this website provide key information about the SFA and the SFPO and their activities and history at a pivotal time. The fishing industry is fully engaged in the challenge of developing new management regimes outside the CFP and has a major role to play in informing the science that underpins estimates of sustainable catches. At the same time, emerging issues such as changing consumer preferences, pressures on our marine environment and climate change are all increasingly relevant to our work.