Scarborough firm SeaGrown to trial UK's first offshore scallop farm

The UK’s first offshore scallop farm will be trialled off the Yorkshire coast through the use of pioneering and sustainable new methods.

Building on the success of reintroducing oysters into the Humber, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is now supporting Scarborough company SeaGrown Ltd in its efforts.

The trust will partner with the firm on the project, which is being funded by a grant from Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF).

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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.”

SeaGrown’s seaweed farm, built off the coast of Scarborough, has pioneered a low-impact system that only uses the top 16ft (five metres) of the water to grow three species of seaweed on a succession of floating lines.

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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.

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, say the organisations.

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

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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.

The company was co-founded by Wave Crookes, a former Scarborough fisherman who trained as a diver in the Navy and was a navigating officer on British Antarctic surveys.

He said: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, so creating delicious, high quality shellfish whilst giving the marine environment a boost has got to be a good idea and we can’t wait to get started.”