A first for UK aquaculture as mussels from Scottish Shellfish achieve Friend of the Sea certification Published: 25 March, 2010
Rope grown mussels produced by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) have become the first farmed seafood in the UK to achieve the prestigious Friend of the Sea (FoS) certification providing independent confirmation of the sustainability of its aquaculture operations.
Following a rigorous eight-month audit process, all member farms of SSMG have achieved FoS accreditation that confirms and endorses the sound environmental credentials of its mussel farming procedures.
Stephen Cameron, managing director of Scottish Shellfish, said he was delighted at achieving the certification, which represented a major milestone for the company that signalled its commitment to sustainability.
This is a first for the UK and achieving this certification is testimony to the hard work and dedication of our member farms in employing best practice procedures that ensures there is minimal environmental impact during the growth cycle of our quality rope grown mussels, he said.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the provenance of their food and any impact its production may have on the environment. Achieving this certification will now enable consumers to make informed choices when purchasing mussels.
Mussels from Scottish Shellfish are not dredged from wild stock living on the seabed but are collected naturally as microscopic free-swimming larvae or spat from the sea on lines suspended in open water. The collected mussel spat then grows naturally by feeding on plankton carried by the rich tidal flows found around the Scottish west coast and Shetland. Once harvested, the mussels have a high meat yield and are free of grit.
Paolo Bray, director of Friend of the Sea, said: The audit of SSMG mussel producers has been one of the most complex and engaging run by Friend of the Sea, considering the wide geographic distribution and number of sites to be visited.
He added: We believe that the farming of rope-grown mussels is one of the most sustainable ways of producing an excellent source of protein. The presence of mussel farms can actually be beneficial to the environment. The certification of Scottish mussel producers represents one of the most important achievements of the Friend of the Sea project in the UK. The Friend of the Sea label on mussels can provide useful information to consumers on the optimal environmental performance of mussel farming.
Stephen Cameron says: Our mussel farmers are totally dependent upon nature and merely provide a helping hand in their production.
There are 14 mussel farms in the Scottish Shellfish group, which are located on the Scottish west coast and Shetland. Scottish Shellfish, which has a processing and handling facility in Bellshill, represents about 70% of total Scottish mussel production. The bulk of its output is for the UK, although it also supplies small quantities for the export market.