Gordon Turnbull Oyster Farmer

Interview with Gordon Turnbull from Mull Oysters Ltd - September 2019 

Where do you live and where do you work?

I live near Dervaig on the Isle of Mull. I farm pacific oysters in the waters of Loch a Chumhainn.

How long have you been working at Isle of Mull Oysters Ltd?

It has been almost 10 years since I started working at Isle of Mull Oysters Ltd, a company which has existed since 1990. We have two full time members of staff and one part time, and my dad Nick who has now retired from the farm, but still comes along very occasionally to help us out.

What are the best parts of your job?

The best parts about my job are that I enjoy the challenge, the freedom and the constant improvements we make and the fact that unlike most farming there is no long tradition of oyster farming in Scotland so you really can be creative to do it in the best way you can.

I feel very lucky to be in a job which I really enjoy. I like being down at the shore where things are ever changing. It is an interesting job in a beautiful location. Each day is different and each oyster is unique in its own way.

What makes your product stand out?

The best thing about our produce is that it is sustainable and this is something we are very proud of. Oyster farming has been shown to actually improve the environment – something which is vitally important in the current environmental climate – and it also tastes fantastic!

One of the most positives things about being a shellfish farmer are the environmental benefits and the quality, freshness and uniqueness of our product. 

What changes have you seen in the way you work over the last 10 years?

My Job has changed a lot since I started but the fundamentals remain the same - produce quality shellfish. Over the last 10 years I have fine-tuned our way of working and made changes which have resulted in a better quality product which is constantly improving.

We have recently invested in new technology and we are learning on the job all the time. Better nursery care, expertise in positioning and years of knowledge and experience is helping us produce an excellent quality product.

What makes your products unique?

The thing that makes Scotland unique when it comes to producing shellfish is the nutrient rich and the pure waters, a unique coastline suitable for shellfish production. We can’t control the elements and we are in a remote location but I love working outside in nature. 

What are your favourite elements about shellfish farming?

Being a shellfish farmer has the benefit of being able to take home some fantastic produce for dinner! My favourite shellfish dish is oysters in a tempura batter which I would highly recommend.

I grew up on this coast and my father was a fisherman so we were always fishing, doing creels or around the shore in small boats so most of my childhood memories are centred on the coast. It is a privilege to be working in this same environment now and managing to provide for my own children.

What is the best thing about being part of Scottish Shellfish?

Mull Oysters Ltd has benefited immensely from being part of Scottish Shellfish, an organisation which strives for quality and is farm focussed. It is run by shellfish growers for shell fish growers and they have the unique understanding of our needs. Being part of a co-operative is very important to me as it is a principle I believe strongly in.