The SFA has close links with the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, which was established in 1992 with the core aim of supporting the Shetland fishing industry through training, research and development and other activities.
Because a viable fishing industry depends on sustainable fish stocks and effective fisheries management, scientists have a vital role to play in assessing those stocks and gauging the impact of management decisions. This role is particularly more important in Shetland, as its waters are rich in an unusually wide variety of fish species.
Among many other projects, the NAFC Marine Centre has been instrumental in carrying out research on so-called data-deficient stocks such as monkfish, megrim and ling. Quotas for these species are currently kept low to reflect the absence of knowledge about their numbers. Research will give a much more accurate picture and, it is hoped, lead to increased quotas.
In 2000, Shetland established one of the first community-based systems of fisheries management in Britain. Using delegated legal powers, the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation – a partnership of local organisations including the SFA and Shetland Islands Council – took control of shellfish fisheries around the islands. The NAFC Marine Centre provides the advice on which this highly successful system depends.