CUMBRAE Oysters is doubling the size of its current three-acre site at Hunterston in Ayrshire.

Alan Forbes, owner and director of the seafood specialist, highlighted the value of the “very cold, deep Clyde estuarine water” to oyster production for customers in the Far East as the new 15-year lease agreement with Peel Ports was announced.

He noted the expansion would enable Cumbrae Oysters to double production and create a further two jobs at the site, with “additional seasonal opportunities".

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Peel Ports late last year launched its vision to develop the 320-acre Hunterston site as a hub for the “blue economy” in the west of Scotland, while also targeting other industries. The blue economy is a term covering sustainable use of marine resources for output growth.

Jim McSporran, Peel Ports’ Clydeport director, said: “Hunterston PARC (Port and Resource Centre) has great potential to be at the heart of the fast-growing Scottish aquaculture industry.”

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He added: “Hunterston provides the natural development choice for [businesses] in the aquaculture sector to invest. The key attributes, which include the combination of marine infrastructure, energy and access to cold and very deep salt water in which the best shellfish flourish, provide an attractive opportunity to support the growth of the industry.

“This announcement is only the beginning and we welcome enquiries from businesses within the sector looking to explore opportunities.”

Mr Forbes said: “I am very pleased to have this deal in place. Our oysters are in great demand in places like China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as here in the UK and in Europe, and the South Annan Sands at Hunterston have all the conditions to produce the kind of seafood most wanted in the Far East especially.

“The very cold, deep Clyde estuarine water enables the slow growth for optimum production, in addition to the presence of plankton that is the best oyster food.”

As well as year-round oyster production, Cumbrae also offers razor and other species of clams, king scallops, brown crabs, lobsters, and blue mussels on a seasonal basis.

Heather Jones, chief executive of the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, said: “Scotland’s burgeoning aquaculture sector has an important role to play in building a sustainable blue economy...It is great to see opportunities emerging alongside Hunterston PARC’s wider transformation project.”