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Despite its potential, the Scottish mussel industry's production remains relatively low. (Photo: University of Stirling/stirling-aquaculture)

Scottish shellfish industry has potential to grow

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 00:40 (GMT + 9)

A new report has identified significant scope for growth in Scotland's shellfish industry, with mussel farming identified as an area that Scottish producers should place more focus on.

Researchers at the University of Stirling have analysed the prospects and opportunities of farming mussels, oysters and scallops. The report says that, despite Scotland's marine environment offering good opportunities for cultivating shellfish, productions remains low compared to other parts of Europe.

On a visit to Blueshell Mussels in Shetland - Scotland's largest mussel farm - Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

"The shellfish industry is an excellent example of sustainable development, supporting vital employment opportunities in remote parts of Scotland. Here in Shetland, some of the world's finest mussels are produced and is an example of what other parts of the country could be replicating.

Mussels (Photo: The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group )

"The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the industry, which is why we set up the National Shellfish Forum last year, bringing together the public and private sectors to set out a strategic way ahead. Today's report identifies this collaboration as one of the keys to supporting future growth so that Scotland can fulfil its shellfish farming potential."

Michael Laurenson, Chairman of Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) and Seafood Shetland, and managing director of Blueshell Mussels, said:

"In 13 years Blueshell Mussels has grown to become the largest rope-grown mussel producer in the UK. Even though we have grown significantly over the years, we have done so in a sustainable way and always with a focus on quality. We have also invested in developing unique cultivation techniques, which allow the mussels to access plenty of natural feed, achieving good growth.

"Seafood Shetland has just completed its pre-assessment for MSC accreditation, along with SSMG's mainland-based members. Achieving full accreditation would underpin our shellfish growers' commitment to sustainability, which we can, in turn, demonstrate to our customers.

"In 2008, Shetland produced 3,506 tonnes of mussels and I believe that there is great potential for Scotland as a whole to increase its tonnage. As Chairman of SSMG and Seafood Shetland, I can take my own experience to the table and support other growers plan for a successful future."

Scottish shellfish production is dominated by mussels with 5,869 tonnes produced in 2008, followed by 303 tonnes of Pacific oysters, 20 tonnes of Native oysters, 27 tonnes of queen scallop and two tonnes of king scallop.

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