Crayfish make for Skye

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The Independent Online
Plans to grow freshwater crayfish at Skye's only whisky distillery could give the phrase "a wee nip" a new meaning. A group of farmers is aiming to use the hot water and barley grains from Talisker malt production to produce fast-growing crayfish for the Scandinavian sea-food market. The shellfish grow to around four inches and look like small lobsters. Project leader Doug McLeod said: "The Finns have been trying to farm crayfish in ponds for years but the water freezes every winter. As a result the crayfish ... take up to seven years to reach market size." United Distillers, which owns the plant at Carbost in southwest Skye, has initially welcomed the plan, and has offered spent barley grains as food.

The main hurdle is getting Scottish Office approval. David Phillips, an invertebrate ecologist with Scottish Natural Heritage, says a licence is needed to keep non-native crayfish. Crayfish can cross dry land to reach fresh water and there is concern that they could escape as imported American signal crayfish have done. Mr McCleod plans to use European northern noble crayfish, which he says are "much more lethargic than their cousins".

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