Shellfish- a worldclass product


The shellfish industry in Ireland provides an important source of economic activity in our remote coastal regions.  The industry is first documented as far back as the 16th century and was a key exporter during the Industrial Revolution and early 20th century.

The bays of Donegal have some of the cleanest, most unpolluted waters in the North Atlantic.  This is due to Donegal having a mainly rural population, with no large cities, no polluted rivers and very limited industry.  Such an environment results in fertile growing conditions for shellfish along the west coast of Donegal as well as along inlets such as Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly.

The main species of shellfish harvested along the Donegal coast are oysters, mussels, clams and scallop.  The shellfish industry in Donegal directly employs 400 people and produces approximately 4000 tonnes of shellfish annually resulting in exports valued in excess of €20 million.

Oyster harvesting is an important shellfish sector in Donegal and the two main species of oysters harvested in Donegal are Native (Ostrea Edulis) and Pacific (Crassostrea Gigas), which was introduced to Ireland during the 1970’s due to a decline in indigenous stock. 

The bays of Donegal are semi sheltered, but still open to the rough tides of the Atlantic Ocean.  These rough tides contribute to the hard shell associated with Donegal Oysters, resulting in a considerably longer shelf life, which is highly favourable among customers worldwide.  The link attached demonstrates how to open an oyster.