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In brief for 14 August 2011

Shetland dominates shellfish farming

SHETLAND remains the Scottish stronghold for shellfish farming, according to the latest government statistics.

The islands’ 32 mussel businesses generated more than £3.5 million last year, more than one third of the Scottish total for all forms of shellfish, amounting to £8.3 million.

Mussels still dominate the sector nation-wide, with Shetland accounting for 53 per cent of the national mussel production. The islands produced 3,840 tonnes of mussels, the national total being 7,199 tonnes.

Shetland has 108 active mussel farming sites and 133 people employed in the sector, the largest number in the country.

Strathclyde comes second behind Shetland on mussel production, but dominates the oyster farming industry. The western isles are the only other significant producer of mussels.

Engineering shortage

A BP chief has complained of a shortage of skilled engineers to help with its plans to boost production west of Shetland.

Head of North Sea operations Trevor Garlick is reported to be saying that the company is finding it hard to recruit between 150 and 300 people a year, which it needs.

The company is currently investing £3 billion on developing the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields west of Shetland, which they believe contain 450 million barrels.

Scottish sea surveys

THE SCOTTISH government have commenced this year’s surveys of Scotland’s seas to help decide on future marine protected areas, find out about fish stocks and inform plans for offshore renewables.

Last year’s survey covered the Firth of Clyde, but this year it is being extended to cover eight areas including Scotland’s north east between Moray Firth and Aberdeen, the outer Firth of Forth, the Minches, Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive near Oban, part of waters around Orkney, north of the western isles, Noss Head near Wick, and the Sound of Canna off Skye.