Brothers land tasty business on the Isle of Scalpay

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Two brothers have launched a business that provides visitors to the Isle of Scalpay and Harris with a unique opportunity to buy live shellfish from their fishing boat each day.

Donald and Finlay Ewen Macleod launched Scalpay Shellfish after tourists kept approaching them on Scalpay pier looking to buy fresh shellfish directly from them.

The brothers, who run the business with their wives Catherine and Hazel, saw a gap in the market to fulfil their requests and now sell the langoustine, lobster and brown crab they land at 6 p.m. each day from either the pier or local marina.

With demand for their shellfish growing, the brothers, who have been helped by Business Gateway Outer Hebrides, are now investigating the possibility of sending their catch directly to customers throughout the UK.

Catherine said: “Our customers really love the fact they are buying fresh, local produce directly from the fishermen who have landed the catch – you can’t get more traceable than that! The vast majority of shellfish that is caught locally is landed and exported live to Spain and France by lorry. Locals and tourists don’t usually get the chance to buy the shellfish before it gets sent away, so providing them with an opportunity to buy directly from us seems only right, as nothing tastes better than fresh, locally caught shellfish. We provide a real taste of Scalpay - from sea to boat to plate within a matter of hours.

“When we started thinking about setting up the business earlier this year, Hazel and I approached Business Gateway for advice and attended a number of the free courses on marketing and advertising, which were very useful. The DigitalBoost course on social media was invaluable, giving us insights into social media that we weren’t aware of. We also received 1:1 support from a marketing expert which helped with our website and social media platforms.

“In a world where everything is changing at such a quick pace, it’s brilliant to be able to access the wealth of knowledge and expertise that Business Gateway can offer.”

Norman MacLean, Business Gateway, said: “Spotting a gap in the market has provided Donald and Finlay Ewen with a way to establish a new family venture that sells world class shellfish with provenance directly to locals and tourists. We were able to arm Catherine and Hazel, who run the business on land, with the knowledge they needed to market Scalpay Shellfish on and offline. Already they have used the advice given to establish a sizeable social media following which will continue to grow as word spreads about their offering.”

With fishing in their blood, both the brothers’ grandfather and father were herring fishermen, it was inevitable that Donald and Finlay Ewen would choose a career at sea.

Working with creels, the duo catch mainly lobster during the summertime and langoustine and crab the rest of the year, setting sail from Scalpay each day on the Watchful IV or the Maranatha Ω.

Customers can call or email Scalpay Shellfish to find out what the catch will be each day and arrange to pick up their fresh shellfish early evening. Currently, the business also supplies the award winning North Harbour Bistro based on the island.

Donald said: “Scalpay fishermen pride themselves on their reputation for having an in-depth knowledge of the best fishing grounds in the area and the rare, quality products that live in the water. Finlay Ewen and I are doing a job that we love in a place that we love. Fishing is in our blood, and our father’s passion for the sea has been ingrained in us. We love to share our passion with those holidaying in the islands as well as the community around us.”

Find out how Business Gateway Outer Hebrides can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01851 808 240.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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