Aquaculture and Shellfish

Aquaculture currently has a low profile in the Moray Firth. There are no active licensed finfish farms located within the Inner Moray Firth or SAC. The last operational fish farm was situated in the bay at Avoch in the Inverness Firth and closed in 2002. The lease for a site at Red Nose, near the South Sutor, was never developed and expired in 2005. There is only one shellfish farm but it is currently not operational. There is a classified shellfish harvesting area and exploited natural mussel beds in the Dornoch Firth. The Scottish Government’s Locational Guidelines for Marine Fish Farming make a general presumption against further development of finfish farms off the east coast of mainland Scotland.

£22million worth of shellfish is landed annually from the Moray Firth, much of which is exported.  Norway Lobster (Nephrops) is now the most important commercial fishing in the Firth although scallops, squid and velvet crabs are also fished today.

The Common Mussel (Mytilus Edulis) is found in many places in the Moray Firth. They can form huge beds particularly in areas where conditions are good for larval settlement, and where there is plenty of food. The largest wild mussel fishery in Scotland is in the Dornoch Firth and run by Highland Fresh Mussels Ltd. on behalf of the Highland Council.  The fishery employs 4 staff, rising to 8 at busy harvesting periods, as well as supporting a number of jobs in shore based businesses. Income generated goes to the Tain Common Good Fund.  Read more...

Links to further information:

Marine Scotland - Aquaculture and Shellfish
Scotland has long understood the importance of fishery resources and has recognised the need for effective fisheries management methods to ensure long term sustainability. Marine Scotland has responsibility for promoting sustainable, profitable and well managed fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland and implements a range of management measures within Scottish, UK and EU frameworks.

Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory
FRS staff are responsible for collecting biological data on fish stocks, for conducting assessments of these stocks, providing advice on the stock size and exploitation level, and evaluating conservation measures.

Seafood Scotland
Seafood Scotland is a trade organisation set up in 1999 by the main representatives of the Scottish seafood industry, to market, promote and develop responsibly caught Scottish seafood in order to maximise the value return to industry. Seafood Scotland also acts as delivery partner for Seafish in Scotland. The organisation works closely with all sectors of the Scottish seafood supply chain, from catching and processing, through to retail, food service and consumption, and encourages and facilitates those sectors to cooperate together.