Recently, while researching a series of articles I am writing on sustainable fishing in Shetland, I found myself at the premises of Blueshell Mussels.
Based in Brae, Blueshell Mussels is the UK's leading rope-grown mussel farm. As a family owned business they pride themselves on their dedication to quality, sustainability and creating value for the local Shetland economy.
Owner, Michael Laurenson, says that his family has a long fishing background, but during the late 90's the white-fish industry went through a rough patch and so they moved inshore. Several boats were decommissioned and the men diversified. Michael began growing mussels in 1997 with one mussel growing line and two mussel rafts. This led to a 49 tonne harvest in 2000 and the rest is history. Their mussels became MSC certified in June 2012.
Four years ago they began processing scallops, and their king scallops are the world's first to become MSC certified. They also process MSC certified brown crab. This is due to the closely monitored activities of a small number of boats within a six mile radius of Shetland. At this moment Blueshell Mussels employ 57 people in both their boats and the processing factory, generating income for the local economy.