The EMFF aims to drive growth in aquaculture. Image: Rob Fletcher.

Shellfish production drop

Scotland’s mussel and oyster farmers both reported a decrease in production last year, with volumes falling by 5% and 21% respectively during 2015, while the overall value fell from £10.5 to £10.1 million. 

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The statistics were revealed in Marine Scotland Science’s latest Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey, which was published this morning.


7,270 tonnes of mussels, worth £8.8 million, were produced in Scotland in 2015. Although this is lower than in 2014, it is still the second highest figure on record. The greatest contribution in regional mussel production was from Shetland, accounting for 5,565 tonnes or 77% of Scotland’s total. The 10 biggest producers accounted for 71% of the country’s sales.


Pacific oyster production was worth £1.1 million, with 2.6 million Pacific oyster shells produced for the table, while an additional 5.8 million were sold for on-growing, showing that markets both home and abroad are well established. There were four businesses that produced more than 200,000 Pacific oysters, accounting for 62% of the Scottish total.

Native oyster production dropped by 17%, from 242,000 to 200,000 shells, worth £120,000.

Targeted surveillance for the shellfish diseases bonamiasis and marteiliasis was maintained in 2015 resulting in no new infected areas. Movement restrictions remain in place for the presence of Bonamia ostreae at Loch Sunart and West Loch Tarbert, Argyll. Active surveillance for OsHV-1 ?var continued in 2015.


Queen scallop production increased by 83% since 2014 while the production of farmed scallops decreased by 38%, both these sectors continue to target small niche markets.


Responses were received from 249 (100%) of the sites authorised for mussel production in 2015. One hundred and eleven (45%) of these were spat collection sites, 77 (69%) of which reported that they had sufficient spat settlement for production purposes.


The number of people employed by the shellfish farming industry in Scotland decreased by 0.3% from the 2014 total of 345, employing 166 full-time and 178 part-time and casual workers during 2015.