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Mussel farmers are the sea’s friends

ROPE grown mussels produced by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) have become the first farmed seafood in the UK to achieve the Friend of the Sea (FoS) certification.

The marketing group’s 14 individual members are growing mussels in Shetland and along the Scottish west coast.

Managing director Stephen Cameron said the FoS accreditation confirmed and endorsed the sound environmental credentials of its mussel farming procedures.

“This is a first for the UK and achieving this certification is testimony to the hard work and dedication of our member farms in employing best practice procedures that ensures there is minimal environmental impact during the growth cycle of our quality rope grown mussels.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the provenance of their food and any impact its production may have on the environment. Achieving this certification will now enable consumers to make informed choices when purchasing mussels,” he said.

Rope grown mussels are not dredged from wild stock living on the seabed but are collected naturally as microscopic free-swimming larvae or spat from the sea on lines suspended in open water.

The collected mussel spat then grows naturally by feeding on plankton carried by the rich tidal flows found around the Scottish west coast and Shetland.

Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea, said: “The audit of SSMG mussel producers has been one of the most complex and engaging run by Friend of the Sea, considering the wide geographic distribution and number of sites to be visited.

“We believe that the farming of rope-grown mussels is one of the most sustainable ways of producing an excellent source of protein. The presence of mussel farms can actually be beneficial to the environment.

“The certification of Scottish mussel producers represents one of the most important achievements of the Friend of the Sea project in the UK.”

SSMG operates a processing and handling facility in Bellshill, near Glasgow, and represents about 70 per cent of total Scottish mussel production.