Shetland mussel farm set for expansion with £70k from HIE

Shetland mussel farm set for expansion with £70k from HIE

(credit: Ben Mullay)

C&A Thomason, a family-operated mussel farm based in North Yell, Shetland, has made significant enhancements to its operations thanks to a funding injection of £70,380 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The financial boost has enabled the Shetland business to procure equipment for a new mussel harvesting boat, enabling efficient cleaning and grading of mussels before they are landed.

The business currently has ten employees and produces around 480mt of mussels annually. The expansion will increase production to 600mt and will also create four new jobs.

The island of Yell to the north of the Shetland mainland is a dynamic centre of fishing, aquaculture and renewable energy, with a varied coastline and clean, clear waters offering perfect conditions for growing premium mussels.

C&A Thomason is one of two remaining small independent mussel producers in Shetland. Their sustainably farmed mussels are processed in a factory at the pier and sold under the Shetland Select brand via Seaspray Shetland.

The mussels are mainly destined for the premium restaurant and hospitality sector. They are sold throughout the UK and across the Middle East where they are held in high regard and maintain a strong Shetland brand.

Confirming the HIE investment, Catherine Hawick, development manager in HIE’s Shetland office, said: “The aquaculture sector is a significant contributor to the local economy in Shetland, helping to bring investment and sustain good quality jobs, particularly in our more rural areas.

“This project will help to safeguard ten jobs and create four new roles in North Yell. Highlighting the positive impact the mussel industry has on the communities it operates in.”

Christopher Thomason of C&A Thomason said: “We are very pleased with the new equipment we’ve purchased, which without the support of HIE could not have gone ahead.

“The equipment will ensure we can sustain our careful handling procedures to maintain quality standards and ensure our shellfish reaches our customers in peak condition.

“This will create new jobs and support the sustainable growth of the business in our North Yell base.”

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