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MSC Award for Scottish Mussels

27 June 2012

UK - Scottish rope grown mussels from the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) have achieved the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council.

Standard in recognition of their sustainable and environmentally responsible manner of cultivation.

The award of the flagship ecolabel to SSMG member farms based on the Scottish west coast and Shetland will enable consumers to make informed choices when purchasing mussels and provide an important marketing boost by highlighting the Group's environmental credentials and help support the market for sustainable seafood.

The recognition follows a rigorous 18 month assessment of SSMG mussels by independent certifier Food Certification International (FCI), which examined all aspects the production cycle and the techniques employed. In Shetland, the certification was supported by a partnership arrangement between SSMG and Seafood Shetland, which means that all Shetland produced mussels are now MSC certified. The certification process for both Shetland and the West coast was also supported by a £20,000 donation from The Co-operative Group's Sustainable Fishing Fund.

Stephen Cameron, MD of SSMG, said: "We are committed to environmental responsibility and achieving this prestigious recognition demonstrates to our customers and consumers that our members are dedicated to cultivating a quality and sustainable product."

Mussels produced by SSMG are collected naturally as free-swimming larvae, also referred to as spat, which settle on lines suspended in open water. They then grow naturally by feeding on plankton carried by the rich tidal flows found around the Scottish west coast and Shetland, making it an enhanced fishery with no adverse environmental impact.

Stephen Cameron adds: "Our mussel producers are totally dependent upon nature, which makes this type of operation one of the most sustainable and environmentally responsible around."

Ruth Henderson, chief executive of Seafood Shetland, said: "We are delighted at this significant development for the Shetland industry, which is worth £5.3m to the local economy. Our mussel farming industry has been built on its outstanding reputation for product quality, with 4,567 tonnes produced in 2011, representing 65 per cent of Scottish production."

Claire Pescod, UK Fishery Outreach Manager for MSC, said: "I congratulate SSMG and Seafood Shetland on proving their sustainability credentials with the great achievement of MSC certification. These are the first enhanced fisheries in Scotland to gain the MSC ecolabel and their certification makes a significant contribution to the availability of MSC certified sustainable seafood in the UK and Europe. Mussel production is hugely important to the Scottish and Shetland economies and I look forward to seeing certified sustainable mussels on supermarket shelves soon."

Martin Gill, chief executive of FCI commented: "We congratulate SSMG on their success and were impressed by their professionalism throughout the assessment process, which was highlighted by their commitment to employing best practice procedures at all stages of the production process."

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