July 2011; Ropes Deployed
Our boat crews have been really busy during the last 2 months deploying our spat collector ropes. Mussels spawn yearly in the late spring - early summer, when the mussel larvae drifts through the water column. when the larvae are about 0.25mm then they "settle" in a suitable place for growing, however if the mussels are not happy at this early stage, they can release their byssuss thread and move on. Our process simply provides a suitable place for them to "hang out". Hopefully they will stay in the lines for the 2.5 years before we harvest them. This year we are trying a new experiment with SI Seafarms whose farm we manage; we have deployed 2 lines at a very exposed site at Vementry in St Magnus Bay. On this site even in a fine day the boat rolls with the swell! - Mussel Farming at the edge!


 
MSC Full Assessment

Blueshell are delighted that our Mussels are now undergoing MSC full assessment, we wish to convey our sincere thanks to; The Co-operative Group and the LEADER programme for very generous support funding. Additionally we wish to convey our appreciation to our trade association; Seafood Shetland, and marketing co-operative; Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group for additional funding and their hard work in progressing this tremendous opportunity.   

First Scottish enhanced fishery enters MSC programme

 

Seafood Shetland in partnership with the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) has entered its mussel fishery for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Assessment.  If successful, the fishery’s products will be eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel which the partnership believes will be a great boon for the industry, opening up new markets in the UK and further afield.

 

The fishery produces blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) grown on static ropes suspended in the clean waters around Shetland and the Scottish coast. At present, most of the mussels are sold in UK supermarkets, foodservice and an increasing European export market.

 

Support from The Co-operative

Support for progressing to Full Assessment has been provided by The Co-operative Group, by way of a £20,000 donation from its Sustainable Fishing Fund.  The £200,000 Sustainable Fishing Fund was created in 2008 to improve the sustainability of UK fisheries.

 

A logical partnership

The partnership arrangement with SSMG was a logical move given that much of Shetland’s mussel tonnage is sold through SSMG. Chief executive of Seafood Shetland, Ruth Henderson, said: “We are delighted that we could proceed to Full Assessment, together with SSMG. Shetland’s mussel farming industry has been built on its outstanding reputation for product quality, with 3,698 metric tonnes produced in 2009, equating to 65 per cent of Scottish tonnage. We are very grateful for the financial support received through the LEADER programme, which supported the cost of Pre-Assessment.

 

“The generous donation by The Co-operative is very much appreciated and will assist us as we move to Full Assessment.” 

 

Stephen Cameron, managing director of SSMG continued: “By undergoing the MSC’s independent assessment process, we will provide our members with the opportunity to reach new markets at home and overseas; particularly in sectors seeking producers who can demonstrate their sustainable and responsible working practices.”

 

Large part of the industry represented

Claire Pescod, UK Fishery Outreach Manager for the MSC says: “I’m delighted that Seafood Shetland and the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group have decided to enter their fisheries for MSC assessment. This is the first Scottish enhanced fishery to enter the MSC programme.  It’s great to see such a large part of the Scottish mussel industry moving forward to prove their sustainability credentials.  I know that the UK retail and restaurant sectors will be delighted with the announcement and, if the fishery is successful, I look forward to choosing MSC certified Scottish mussels in the future.”

 

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier, Food Certification International (FCI). Anyone with a stake in the fishery can be involved. If you would like to be involved as a stakeholder, please contact Melissa McFadden on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
January 2011

Between Christmas and New Year we undertook one of our biggest harvests in one day with one boat, when we harvested about 30 tonnes of mussels in 8 hours! Normally in January sales take a bit of a downturn, however this year they begun and have also continued really well. During the month Jamie Oliver had a 5 minute slot on Channel 4 when he cooked up mussels in a cream sauce. "He also quoted that mussels were the ultimate sustainable food" http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jamies-fish-supper/episode-guide/series-1/episode-5 The following week our wholesale mussel sales increased between 20 - 30% compared with the previous week; Thanks Jamie!

 
Christmas time at Blueshell

Another year end is fast approaching, and early December came with many challenges due to the snow which caused havoc with the roads in central Scotland. We have to arrange things like Christmas cover for our staff to ensure we keep customers supplied with product, whilst navigating around holiday constraints imposed by transport and logistics. Meanwhile our team look forward to their Christmas night out and well earned holidays.

 
New software to help efficiency

We are having a new database software package custom built for our business which should really help integrate a number of our daily issues, allowing us to become even more efficient. We have also applied for permission for a new mussel site which will give us more room to thin out product, which would give some extra potential capacity.

 
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