Worldwide sales of live and processed shellfish

Worldwide sales of live and processed shellfish

Fishing heritage

Fishing heritage

As a geographically remote peripheral island group Orkney has had a long tradition of inshore vessels.  Of some 68 islands over 30 were inhabited in the recent past (now around 18) and small boats were the mainstay of island life for centuries –  transporting, people, livestock and goods between the individual islands as well as providing the means to harvest the rich surrounding waters.

From around 1775 London smacks took live lobsters from Orkney to markets in the city. By the end of the century between 100,000 and 120,000 lobsters were being exported annually.  In 1953 local fishermen took control of their own destiny by forming a co-operative to market the local catch.   As well as exporting live shellfish Orkney Fishermen’s Society operates one of the UK’s premier brown crab factories, processing and marketing up to 3,000 tons of crab per annum with the main market focus being the UK retail sector.

Crabs & lobsters

Crabs & lobsters

Orkney has a greater coastline that mainland Scotland.   Situated at the juncture of the North Sea and the Atlantic and influenced by both the Gulf Stream and Artic Ocean the shallow rocky waters provide rich habitat for crabs and lobster.  The islands are regularly flushed by strong tides bringing ever-changing pristine nutrient rich waters perfect for crustacea and offering a source of food for the islanders for thousands of years.

Over 100 registered and licensed boats fish baited pots or “creels” to trap local crabs and lobster.  This non-destructive fishing method ensures that undersized and out of condition specimens are returned alive to the sea to grow and breed.

Science & sustainability

Science & sustainability

Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd employs 2 full-time marine scientists Beta Rodrigues and Matt Coleman to collect data on stocks and inform local management decision making on the fishery. A four-year fishery improvement project (FIP) was completed in March 2017 and ongoing work relates to understanding the science behind local inshore fishery stocks and introducing management measures to protect these.

Along with local stock assessments the scientists have carried out a number of local research projects including looking at juvenile lobster habitats, the movement of juvenile scallops and the size at which local brown crabs reach sexual maturity. The latter piece of work has demonstrated that local crabs reach sexual maturity at under 100 mm carapace width. With a legal minimum size of 150 mm this demonstrates that Orkney brown crabs can have a least 3 spawning seasons before capture and removal from the fishery – making sure that the resource is not over-exploited and is there for future generations.

To see more info and updates view the Twitter page.

Responsible fishing

Responsible fishing

Orkney Fishermen’s Society was the first organisation to pilot and be certified with group certification under the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme.  This scheme has been developed to raise standards in the catching sector, enabling those within the seafood supply chain to demonstrate their commitment to the responsible sourcing of seafood. The RFS is the only global standard that audits compliance on board fishing vessels, including ethical and welfare criteria.

Orkney Fish Shop

Orkney Fish Shop

Our fish shop was opened in 2013 to fill a gap in the local market, the last local fish shop having closed several years ago.

We always source and provide the finest, freshest seafood buying fresh fish from markets in Scrabster and Shetland 3-4 times per week and shellfish including hand-dived scallops, crab and lobster from local boats. Along with fresh seafood we have a wide selection of frozen seafood including coldwater prawns, king prawns, tuna, seabass and bream.

Typical fresh seafood available includes: Haddock, Cod, Monkfish, Hake, Coley, Lemon Sole, Plaice, Farmed Orkney Salmon, Hand Dived Scallops, Smoked Haddock, Smoked Mackerel, Hot and Cold smoked Salmon, Kippers, Live Langoustines and a wide selection of Orkney Crab Products. We also stock locally produced cheese, butter and eggs and various sauces and fish accompaniments.

The Creel

The Creel by Orkney Fish Shop

The Creel “Seafood to takeaway”

To complement our fish shop we have recently purchased a mobile food pod which we have aptly named “The Creel”  which will be used at local events and sites throughout the year.  We will be offering a takeaway range of fresh locally caught Seafood delights such as Crab and Lobster rolls, Soups and much more.  Please see our Facebook page to see where you can find us.

Opening Hours

Monday: 9am – 1pm
Tuesday – Friday: 9am – 4pm
Saturday: 9am – 1pm
Sunday closed

Contact and find us

Product development

Product development

From 2018 the OFS has employed a full-time product development chef in the development kitchen within Orkney Fish. The aim is to develop products and drive market demand for under-utilised local seafood species, allowing the local fleet to diversify while bringing additional income to peripheral rural communities in Orkney. Development work is underway with hand-line caught mackerel and will also focus on cockles, winkles and non-quota white fish species.