SNP - Tom Wills

Local shellfish sector shows its muscle

Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

OVER £8 million worth of mussels were produced in Shetland last year, according to new figures.

The Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2017 revealed that over 6,500 tonnes of mussels were produced in the isles – an increase of around 1,000 tonnes on the previous year.

Around 81 per cent of Scotland’s mussels haul were harvested in Shetland.

The survey said that there were 133 active shellfish sites in Shetland, which amounted to over one third of Scotland’s sites.

Shetland’s shellfish farming industry employed 100 people during 2017, with 87 per cent of the workforce male.

Across Scotland the sector is now worth £12.4 million, representing an increase of £3.5 million since 2013, with Shetland’s mussels a large part of the industry’s success.

Seafood Shetland chief executive Ruth Henderson said the figures reaffirm the need for reliable capacity on the ferries connecting the isles to the Scottish mainland.

“Our experienced and knowledgeable workforce has allowed us to sustain and grow this important industry over the last 40 years. It is a significant contributor to the islands’ economy, supporting our more fragile and remote communities,” she said.

“Going forward, we are committed to playing our part in Scotland Food and Drink’s ambitious plan to more than double the value of the farming, fishing, food and drink industry by 2030.

“To make that happen, we must ensure that we not only have a stable platform on which to grow, we must have the transport infrastructure in place to meet the needs of a growing industry.

“For that assurance, we look to Transport Scotland to make adequate provision in the new North Isles ferry tender.”

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