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Seafish Stress Significance of Rural Shellfish

by 5m Editor
15 May 2009, at 1:00am

UK - Strong home-grown industries are vital in these times of global economic downturn, especially for remote rural communities. According to information released today by Seafish, the authority on seafood, the shellfish farming industry in Scotland is an outstanding example of this kind of industry.

According to Seafish, shellfish farming is hugely important to rural economies and supports infrastructure in the coastal regions where it occurs. The shellfish farming industry in Scotland supports almost 400 full, part-time and casual staff in regions where jobs can be scarce. One of the best examples of the positive effect of shellfish farming is Shetland.

Shetland is a shellfish farming hub, contributing 2,605 tonnes or 54 per cent of Scotland’s mussel production. Rachel Hunter, head of business growth for Highland & Island Enterprise (HIE) in Shetland, explains: "The Shetland shellfish industry produces some of the highest quality shellfish in the world. It is a vital part of the local economy employing over 100 people and achieves annual sales of over £2.5m in the UK, with exports to Europe increasing."

Many different varieties of shellfish are farmed around the coast of Scotland with a total value of £5.1 million to the Scottish economy. Mussels are the most widely farmed shellfish in the UK with oysters, scallops, clams and cockles making up the remainder of the shellfish farming industry.

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation reported recently that aquaculture now accounts for 47 per cent of all fish consumed by humans around the world, highlighting the importance of shellfish farming in the global context.

Dr Paul Williams, Research Director at Seafish, said: “In a time when food security is becoming a growing concern across the globe, it’s great news that Scotland can provide delicious, nutritious and sustainable food for itself through shellfish farming, as well as generating export potential to other markets in Europe and further afield.”

Shellfish require no feed inputs or chemical treatments and so the environmental impacts of farming shellfish are minimal. Coupled with strict standards for farming, this means that shellfish farming is very sustainable.

Shellfish is widely recognised as being essential to a healthy diet as it is low in fat and cholesterol and high in vitamins such as calcium, zinc and Omega 3. It is also very safe to eat due to high standards in production and processing.

5m Editor