Grant awarded to trial UK’s first offshore scallop farm off Scarborough coast

Building on the success of reintroducing oysters into the Humber, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is now supporting a successful bid to trial the UK’s first offshore scallop farm.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:52 pm
Explore Exhibition - Seagrown Seaweed for life stand. Pictured are Lucinda Jenkins, Andrew Jenkins, Laura Robinson and Wave Crookes (seaweed farmers).

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are partnering on the project, which is being funded by a grant from Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) and lead by SeaGrown Ltd, a Scarborough-based company which has recently established another UK first – an offshore seaweed farm.

SeaGrown’s seaweed farm, built off the coast of Scarborough, has pioneered a low-impact system that only uses the top five meters of the water to grow three species of seaweed on a succession of floating lines.

This new system is robust enough to meet the challenging conditions of the North Sea, and its success inspired this latest project to introduce scallops to the farm.

The SIF-funded project plans to trial a new system which will enable SeaGrown to grow scallops and oysters underneath their seaweed.

It is hoped this trial will demonstrate how these offshore farms could sustainably grow multiple species at different depths.

Growing them together, rather than cultivating them separately, can have with wider benefits and even promote faster growth, as they can use each other’s by-products.

Specialist staff from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will continue to offer advice and support as the project develops.

The UK currently lands around 30,000 tonnes of scallops per year, the majority using controversial dredge fisheries where a heavy metal dredge and toothed bar is dragged along the sea floor to disturb and collect scallops.

The equipment designed for SeaGrown’s trial will use stationary caged units, and a custom anchoring and retrieval system which will have a minimal impact on the seafloor.

Dr James Wood, Fisheries and Research Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “This is an important trial both regionally and nationally, where the emergent offshore aquaculture sector has a vital role to play in supporting the country’s increasing demand for seafood.

"New approaches need to be carefully designed to ensure they’re sustainable and balance their impacts with conservation of our seas.

"This system has intentionally been designed to be low impact with this compromise in mind.”

Wave Crookes at SeaGrown Ltd said: “SeaGrown is underpinned by innovation, so we're very pleased to have been awarded funding by the Seafood Innovation Fund and work with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to trial a system for producing sustainable scallops and oysters.

"This system will complement our seaweed farming to create a really neat, circular and completely natural process for offshore shellfish cultivation. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, so creating high quality shellfish, while giving the marine environment a boost, has got to be a good idea and we can't wait to get started!”