Scotland mussel farm production hits all-time high

Mussels, Isle of Lewis

Farmed mussel production in Scotland reached a record level in 2023, while there was a slight fall in the volume of farmed king scallops and oysters.

The figures come from the Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2023, published today. The survey was compiled for the Scottish Government from returns provided by shellfish producers.

The figures for 2023 show that Scotland produced 10,300 tonnes of farmed common mussels, the largest amount ever recorded and representing an increase of 13%. The number of common mussel producing sites with sufficient spat settlement for production purposes decreased, however, from 88 to 54.

The vast majority of mussel production is based in Shetland, which accounts for around 84% by tonnage.

Pacific oyster production decreased by 4% during 2023 in tonnage terms, while there was an increase in the production of native oyster from 109,000 to 111,000 shells in 2023. Native oyster production is now back to the levels seen in 2019 after a serious slump in 2021.

During 2023, 3.9 million Pacific oyster shells were produced for the table market. Almost half came from the Highland region and just under 34% from Strathclyde.

There was a decrease in king scallop production since 2022, from 39,000 to 24,000 shells. Queen scallop information was not reported this year due to the low levels of production and producers.

The financial value of farmed shellfish production was also up. The Scottish shellfish farming sector is estimated to be worth approximately £14.1 million at first sale value, an increase of 36% on the 2022 value.

Employment levels decreased by 4% from the previous year, with 246 full-time, part-time and casual staff being employed during 2023.

The survey also reports on shellfish health issues. During 2023, 133 out of 294 licensed shellfish production sites were inspected as part of a risk based surveillance programme. Movement restrictions remain in place for the presence of Bonamia ostreae at Loch Sunart and the Dornoch Firth in Highland region, West Loch Tarbert and Lynn of Lorne, Loch Creran and Loch Etive in Strathclyde region. Great Britain remains free of the shellfish diseases bonamiasis, marteiliasis and OsHV-1 µvar, with the exception of specific compartments under movement restrictions.

Shucking oysters

Shucking oysters

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