Scotland produced a record volume of mussels last year


Production of common mussels for eating increased by 13% from 9,092 tonnes in 2022 to 10,311 tonnes in Scotland in 2023, the highest level of ever recorded, according to the Scottish Government’s newly published Scottish Shellfish Farm Survey 2023.

However, the number of common mussel-producing sites with sufficient spat settlement for production purposes decreased from 88 to 54.

Most of the table mussels (8,694 tonnes) were grown in Shetland, which also produced 2,085 tonnes of the 2,526 tonnes of mussels produced in Scotland for on-growing.

Fewer Pacific oysters

There were 3.9 million Pacific oyster shells produced for the table market, a decrease of 4% from the 2022 total. Most oyster production took place in Highland (1.775 million shells) and Strathclyde (1.569 million shells).

There were 4.232 million oyster shells produced for on-growing, including 2 million in Highland and 1.432 million in Strathclyde.

There was a decrease in king scallop production from 39,000 shells in 2022 to 24,000 shells, while there was a marginal increase in the production of native oyster from 109,000 to 111,000 shells.

Value up 36%

Employment in the shellfish sector decreased by 4% from 2022, with 246 full-time, part-time and casual staff being employed in 2023.

Overall estimated first sale value for all shellfish species was calculated to be approximately £14.1 million in 2023, a 36% increase on the 2022 value.

The report is based on the returns of an annual survey questionnaire sent to all active authorised shellfish farming businesses in Scotland.

Active sites

Out of the 103 businesses authorised at the end of 2023, 63 recorded sales during that year. The 103 authorised businesses farmed 294 active sites, of which 169 (57%) placed shellfish on the market. Active sites are classed as those in a production growing cycle which may contain stock or be fallow.

Prices of farmed shellfish fluctuated throughout the year. Their value at first sale was estimated from figures obtained from the shellfish farming sector. The average price of Pacific oyster was £0.61 per shell; native oyster, £0.93 per shell; king scallop, £2.18 per shell; and common mussel £1,116 per tonne.