Strong home-grown industries are vital in times of global economic downturn, especially for remote rural communities.
That is the view of Seafish, the authority on seafood, which cites the shellfish farming industry in Scotland is an outstanding example.
The industry supports almost 400 full, part-time and casual staff in regions where jobs can be scarce and one of the best examples of the positive effect was judged to be Shetland, which contributes 2,605 tonnes or 54 per cent of Scotland’s mussel production.
Highland & Island Enterprise (HIE) head of business growth Rachel Hunter said: “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 UN Food & Agriculture Organisation reported recently that aquaculture now accounted for 47 per cent of all fish consumed by humans around the world, highlighting the importance of shellfish farming in the global context.
Seafish research director Paul Williams 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 are minimal. Coupled with strict standards for farming, this means 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.