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Mussel innovation and growth

It wasn’t until the mid to late 90s that mussel farming started to gather some momentum. With the knowledge gained from the trials, several entrepreneurial companies began to look at new production techniques; long lines replaced the more traditional wooden rafts and, for the first time, the industry could look at growing in scale.

Shetland Islands Council adopted a policy that mussel farms had to be 500 metres away from each other and/or salmon farms. This meant that, with salmon sites having to be 1,000 metres apart, there was space in most voes around Shetland to establish several mussel farms. In addition, with the ongoing drive by the salmon industry to favour more offshore locations, many less productive salmon sites were converted into mussel production.

From the beginning, mussel farming has always been heralded as a hugely sustainable farming method – which has been borne out with the recently awarded MSC accreditation.

The mussel industry in Shetland remains, predominantly, in local hands, with Shetland mussels marketed directly by the farmers. This has helped them to gain, and maintain, a strong reputation in the marketplace.