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Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation

We manage and regulate the fisheries for shellfish within Shetland’s six mile limit, through the issue of licences and the implementation of regulations and other measures, to ensure the long-term sustainability of these fisheries. SSMO promotes the recovery of shellfish stocks through stock enhancement and other management measures.

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Vision, Aim and Goals


A buoyant shellfish sector based on a sound management system, resulting in fisheries that are managed to ensure long term biological, environmental and economic sustainability.


To continue to maintain sustainable and well managed shellfish fisheries operating within a healthy marine environment.

Short Term Goals

  • Continue to develop new database and fisheries management tool
  • Identify and pursue sustainable sources of income
  • Continue to meet MSC recommendations
  • Revise Management Plan and develop strategic objectives for 2018 – 2023
  • Summary of Management Plan, click here

Medium Term Goals

  • VMS (or equivalent) for all vessels
  • Review and appraise sustainability certification

Long Term Goals

  • Sustainability accreditation for the lobster fishery


The Shetland Islands Regulated Fishery (Scotland) Order (also known as a Regulating Order) came into force in 1999. The Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) was set up in 2000 and was granted the legal right to manage the Regulating Order. There have since been another two Regulating Orders with the current one being conferred on SSMO until 2028.

SSMO, therefore, manages the commercial shellfish fisheries between tide line and the 6 mile limit around the coast of Shetland. These fisheries are for lobsters, crabs, scallops, queens, whelks, clams, razorshells, cockles, mussels and oysters. Amongst other things, the Regulating Order give the SSMO the power to impose restrictions and regulations, to issue licences and the right to set tolls.

The SSMO is a partnership of organisations with an interest in the future of Shetland's shellfish fisheries. The organisation is legally constituted as a company limited by guarantee and is run by a board of directors half of whom are active fishermen. The SSMO Board membership has been restructured over the years and currently comprises 10 directors as follows:

  • 2 members from the Association of Shetland Community Councils (nominated by the association) - currently Mr Lindsay Laurenson and 1 vacancy.
  • 2 shellfish processors - currently Mr Robert Williamson who is also Chairperson and Mr George Hirbakis
  • 2 Shetland Fishermen's Association (SFA) members (nominated by the SFA Small Boat Committee) - currently Mr Garry Leask and Mr Richard Gray
  • 4 SSMO licencees (nominated and voted for by SSMO members) - currently Mr Sydney Johnson who is also Vice-Chairperson, Mr Billy Reid, Mr Richard Grains and Mr George Andrew Williamson

The SSMO Board meet 6 times a year and there is also a SSMO Advisory Group who meet on a regular basis and which advises the SSMO Board.

In 2012, SSMO gained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Accreditation, a sustainability standard, for three fisheries - Velvet Crab, Brown Crab and King Scallops. Shetland continues to have the only MSC certification for Brown Crab and dredged King Scallops of their kind globally. The SSMO is, therefore, considered nationally to be a leader in Inshore Fisheries Management

Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation acknowledge the funding awarded through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund which has allowed us to achieve MSC reaccreditation for our Brown Crab and Scallop fisheries.


A selection of useful links related to SSMO. Read More

Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation News

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Scottish Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups