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Mussel farmer gets £960,000 to feed the need for seed

Shetland Mussels Ltd is spending £3.2 million to increase the reliability and volume of mussel seed. Photo: Shetland Mussels Ltd
Shetland Mussels Ltd is spending £3.2 million to increase the reliability and volume of mussel seed. Photo: Shetland Mussels Ltd

Shetland Mussels Ltd has been granted almost £960,000 by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) towards the near £3.2m cost of its “Seed Feed” project.

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Company director and co-owner Richard Tait said the project included investment in seed production equipment such as spat collection ropes, and a workboat.

The aim of the project is to produce an additional 1,000 tonnes of seed by 2021 to feed into the company’s production and possibly sell to other farm members within the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) cooperative.

Yields from good to nil

Tait told Fish Farming Expert: “Natural seed collection fluctuates significantly for farmers. Seed collection yields can vary from good to sometimes nil, with no seed settling on deployed collection materials.

“Variable yields are experienced between seasons, deployment day, and also between site areas.”

He said the plan was to spread the gathering of spat wider to alleviate the risk of not getting enough, and that the investment reflects the industry’s increasing efforts to produce more seed for on-growing to harvest size to meet strong demand.

The mussel industry is increasing efforts to catch more wild seed, along with efforts to produce hatchery seed.

The grant is the biggest of 29 worth a total of £4.8 million for Scottish fishery and aquaculture projects.

The Hebridean Seaweed Company is investing £6.5m in a new processing facility.
The Hebridean Seaweed Company is investing £6.5m in a new processing facility.

Seaweed processing

The second-biggest grant went to the Hebridean Seaweed Company Ltd on Lewis, which got £800,000 towards a £6.5m project to develop a new processing facility in the Hebrides.

Director Martin Macleod said the company, which makes organic seaweed products for use in the animal feed supplement, soil enhancement, alginate, cosmetics and nutraceutical industries, has been sustainably harvesting seaweed for 15 years, and this was a new investment in further processing of seaweed products to supply global markets.

Another seaweed company, New Wave Foods Ltd, of Wick, received £350,001.97 to develop seaweed farms and £346,269.34 for the expansion of seaweed processing facilities.

Trout stunners

Trout farmer Dawnfresh Seafood Ltd was granted £91,351 towards the purchase and installation of fish treatment, pumping, grading and stunning systems.

Another trout farmer, Selcoth Fisheries Ltd, of Moffat, Dumfriesshire, was awarded £35,000 towards the cost of an electric trout stunner, and a further £43,861 for conversion of its premises to a hydro-electric energy supply.

And Shetland-based SSQC Ltd, which provides independent quality assurance inspections for the aquaculture and whitefish industries, as well as analytical, marine, environmental and consultancy services, was granted £295,980 towards the cost of an aquaculture support vessel.

At the lower end of the scale, the NAFC Marine Centre at Scalloway, Shetland, received £9,550 towards forklift training provision for aquaculture industry.

Fergus Ewing: Westminster must provide clarity on what will replace the EMFF.
Fergus Ewing: Westminster must provide clarity on what will replace the EMFF.

Supporting shellfish growth

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This seventh round of EMFF grants will provide a vital financial ‘leg-up’ to projects from the Shetland Islands to Dumfries and Galloway – with the nearly £5m invested helping to support the whole fisheries supply chain to reach into new markets, and improving the overall quality of Scottish produce.

“The new funding will also help to support the growth potential of Scotland’s shellfish sector, reinforce the importance of training, health and welfare within salmon aquaculture and a ground-breaking initiative to assess the health of our iconic wild salmon stocks.

“We are now in a period of great uncertainty for our coastal communities, so I’m sure they will welcome this real and practical support from the Scottish Government and European Union. At the moment we still don’t know what, if anything, will replace the EMFF after Brexit. The UK Government must provide clarity on that for our fishermen as soon as possible.”

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