New laws in force to protect Scottish shellfish waters

Conwy mussels
Image caption The measures are designed to help ensure that shellfish products in Scotland are safe for human consumption

Dozens of Scottish shellfish nurseries will be protected under new legislation that has come into force.

A total of 84 protected areas have been identified as part of efforts to support Scotland's shellfish sector and help ensure products are safe for human consumption.

Steps will be taken to prevent water quality in these areas from deteriorating.

Ministers said the measures were the first of their kind in the UK.

They were introduced to replace the repealed European Shellfish Waters Directive.

A list of Shellfish Water Protected Areas has been published on the Scottish government website.

In July, all shellfish harvesting sites in Shetland were closed and mussels from the islands withdrawn from sale for a period after unusually high levels of naturally-occurring toxins were detected by the Food Standards Agency.

In the previous month, members of the public were advised not to eat clams and mussels from two areas of Fife, after high levels of toxin were found in shellfish.

'Sustainable future'

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The aquaculture and freshwater fisheries sectors are significant contributors to Scotland's economy as a whole as well as critical to the economies of many coastal and rural communities.

"We want to ensure both sectors have a successful and sustainable future, and ensuring Scotland's precious marine environment is protected is a key part of that.

"Shellfish production is important for our rural and coastal communities and we recognise the need for clean water in these areas to ensure a high-quality product which is safe for human consumption.

"It's important that we maintain the current high standards of water quality, but also protect against and reduce pollution in shellfish waters."

He added: "These new measures not only do that but also significantly expand the area of water protected to enhance support for shellfish life and increase the number of high-class edible shellfish products."

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