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Scottish Farmed Shellfish Important, Minister Told

by the Fish Site Editor
15 September 2009, at 1:00am

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group has underlined to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham MSP the importance of the farmed shellfish sector to the Scottish economy during a visit to its processing facility in Bellshill this morning (15 September).

Ms Cunningham was visiting Scottish Shellfish to see at first hand the benefits brought by a recent major upgrade at the company's processing site, which included new processing machinery and the creation of a new chill room. The £110,000 investment was supported by a grant from the European Fisheries Fund and reinforces Scottish Shellfish's position as the UK's leading supplier of mussels and oysters.

The Minister also heard about an ambitious scheme currently underway that will ensure mussels from Scottish Shellfish become the first rope-grown mussels in the world to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as a sustainable and well managed resource.

This is the first time that a cultivated seafood product has begun the MSC pre-assessment process. Scottish Shellfish has also entered its mussel farms on the west coast and Shetland for the prestigious Friends of the Sea (FoS) certification.

Stephen Cameron, Scottish Shellfish managing director, said: "Scottish mussel and oyster farming is extremely important to the fragile Scottish rural economy, employing 350 full and part-time jobs and worth over £7.5m a year, with an additional significant economic boost from processing operations such as ourselves at Scottish Shellfish, which employs 65 people at the Bellshill site.

"We are delighted that the Minister agreed to visit our processing facility as it is part of our continuing engagement with Government and regulators to ensure a bright future for the Scottish shellfish farming industry.

"We believe the industry has excellent potential for growth - it is entirely sustainable with no impact on the environment. Mussels and oysters are also extremely healthy to eat and form part of the Scottish Government's drive to get people to eat more seafood. However, it is important that the right encouragement and regulatory framework is put in place to ensure the industry can continue to develop."

Roseanna Cunningham said: "The shellfish industry is a precious economic commodity. We are committed to helping the sector develop further and as part of our new aquaculture strategy have established a dedicated group on shellfish. I am always encouraged to hear of new advances in the industry.

"The Bellshill operation is an impressive set up, a co-operative handling 80% of all Scottish shellfish across a number of producers. In the Parliament cafe, we also had the pleasure of sampling the company's new line, a seafood soup, which has been produced to celebrate Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight."

Scottish Shellfish is the UK's premier producer of finest quality mussels and oysters supplying most major supermarkets as well as wholesalers and restaurants. The co-operative represents 19 mussel and oyster farms on the west coast and northern isles of Scotland, supplying most major supermarkets as well as wholesalers and restaurants.

the Fish Site Editor