IT is a sight synonymous with beachside eateries and high-end coastal restaurants.

But the crunch of crab shells and waft of mussels being cooked in wine and garlic butter is under threat around Scotland’s coast after two separate periods of severe weather left shellfish in short supply.
Crab, lobster and langoustine have been hit by the inclement spring weather that brought the coldest water temperatures in the North Sea for a decade.

Now the change in weather conditions have affected the mussel crop as one of Scotland’s biggest seafood suppliers has cut short its harvesting two weeks early because of the recent heatwave.
Loch Fyne Oysters said it halted production last week rather than early to mid-June, and other seafood suppliers have also had to stop early due after the heat saw crops mature too early.

HeraldScotland:

Loch Fyne Oysters said it halted production last week rather than early to mid-June, and other seafood suppliers have also had to stop early due after the heat saw crops mature too early.

Fish merchants say the catch so far this summer has been lower than would be expected and as a result prices for summer delicacies like shellfish are already high at market.

David Leiper, chairman of the Scottish Seafood Association, said: “We all knew it was going to be like this - the water temperature is at its coldest in ten years, which has a huge impact on that spring and summer fishing.

“On the other hand, there have been some scallops around this year, which is a bit strange.

“But sometimes you get years like this.

“Winter hasn’t stopped until the middle of May.”

He said: “It has just been a long, long winter and all of a sudden it is summer.”

Such is the shortages that some cafes and restaurants have already had to drop the crustaceans from their menus ahead of the busy summer tourist season.

Wholesale prices have soared and some outlets have started removing their popular crab sandwiches from their menu.

Fisherman as far afield as Whitby in Yorkshire and Cromer in Norfolk home of the famed eponymous brown crab report that stocks are down by as much as 40 per cent.

The Beast from the East battered the East Anglian coastline, wreaking havoc with the sea floor and causing thousands of shellfish to wash up on the shore. 

Crabber Andy Frary, who has been in the business since 1980, said: I’d say we’re catching about 60 per cent of what we’re usually catching,
“There’s a number of factors which could contribute to this. One could be the Beast of the East, because that would churn up the seabed and the bigger or more juvenile crabs would have been injured.

“Another thing is the Beast of the East destroyed so many of our crab and lobster pots. 

“We’ve lost about 200 and the ones we have found have been flattened.

“It will have an effect on us going forward because it’ll take a few years for us to recover the cost as the pots are about £70 each.

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Fish merchants say the catch so far this summer has been lower than would be expected and as a result prices for summer delicacies like shellfish are already high at market.

David Leiper, chairman of the Scottish Seafood Association, said: “We all knew it was going to be like this - the water temperature is at its coldest in ten years, which has a huge impact on that spring and summer fishing.

“On the other hand, there have been some scallops around this year, which is a bit strange.

“But sometimes you get years like this.

“Winter hasn’t stopped until the middle of May.”

He said: “It has just been a long, long winter and all of a sudden it is summer.”

Such is the shortages that some cafes and restaurants have already had to drop the crustaceans from their menus ahead of the busy summer tourist season.

Wholesale prices have soared and some outlets have started removing their popular crab sandwiches from their menu.

Fisherman as far afield as Whitby in Yorkshire and Cromer in Norfolk home of the famed eponymous brown crab report that stocks are down by as much as 40 per cent.

The Beast from the East battered the East Anglian coastline, wreaking havoc with the sea floor and causing thousands of shellfish to wash up on the shore. 

Crabber Andy Frary, who has been in the business since 1980, said: I’d say we’re catching about 60 per cent of what we’re usually catching,
“There’s a number of factors which could contribute to this. One could be the Beast of the East, because that would churn up the seabed and the bigger or more juvenile crabs would have been injured.

“Another thing is the Beast of the East destroyed so many of our crab and lobster pots. 

“We’ve lost about 200 and the ones we have found have been flattened.
“It will have an effect on us going forward because it’ll take a few years for us to recover the cost as the pots are about £70 each.

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It is a similar situation in Scotland where fishmongers say prices for shellfish and also salmon and sea trout have been rising after the storms from Siberia.

HeraldScotland:
Eddie Kwok, owner of Eddie’s Fish Market in Marchmont, Edinburgh, said the lobster and crab haul may pick up as the warmer weather arrives, but many of the crustaceans may not have properly matured, and the scarcity is pushing prices up.

He said: “They are due but on the east coast the lobster and the crab have had a long cold winter so they have come out not long ago. The prices are sky high. Everything is the same. 

“The sea trout season is starting but there are very few around. The salmon is the same – sky high.

Now another factor has come into play after the summer heatwave wreaked havoc with the reproductive system’s of shellfish being started early after the heatwave in May.

The hot temperatures have also brought dangerous algae into Scotland’s sea lochs which are increasingly being used for aquaculture such as mussel farming which is now a multi-million industry  
Processing of mussels has risen by more than ten per cent over the past three years, with Pacific oyster shells up by 31 per cent giving the industry a value of more than £12million.

But ahead of the busy tourist season, many producers have stopped early which will see short-term shortages which will push prices up.

Cameron Brown, managing director of Loch Fyne Oysters, said: “This sunshine has been lovely but the heat has made our mussels think it’s summer already and to start spawning. That means they need to be left alone to recover condition over the summer months.

“We also avoid summer harvesting because of the risk of toxic algae due to elevated phytoplankton levels in the loch.”