Adventurer, Journalist, TV personality… Guy Grieve is a man with many hats, but it’s at the helm of the Ethical Shellfish Company that the scallop diver has found his true calling and created the lasting impression of a man who loves Scotland’s wilderness, its people and of course, its wonderful seafood.
“Every harvest from the sea around Scotland is a discovery of something incredible.
“Every time I come up with a dived scallop it is almost as if I’ve found a gold nugget that’s tumbled out of a burn, or I’ve uncovered a diamond, or I’ve found a pearl.”
“You have to be humble you have to give way to the sea, you can’t dominate it, you can’t bully it, you have got to really commit personally to get a dived scallop, and that’s what I find so exciting.”
Speaking to the man himself, you very quickly begin to gain an understanding of the love and respect that he holds for the wilderness of the sea.
“You can’t see seafood, you have to hunt it, you have to discover it. The whole story of finding it is so exciting, it’s beguiling.
“For a lot of fisherman, it’s a hard life but we are all addicted to this treasure hunt for these incredible objects.
“The King Scallop’s shell is one of the most beautiful things around.”
Grieve first arrived on Mull when he was just 19, after his mother moved to Tobermory following the death of his step father. Several aborted attempts to join the army and a Edinburgh Uni degree later, he returned to the island to set up the Ethical Shellfish Company in 2010 with his wife Juliet.
“We started the company in 2010 as a desperate attempt to keep our family afloat. It’s quite humbling that it is still here and that it is now able to create wealth for other people.
“We started out working from the smallest registered fishing boat in Scotland, now we have 18 people earning a living through the company, including four full-timers.”
He believes the success of the company was all down to hard work, the people who lived beside them on the west coast and the “generosity of spirit” that Grieve says he found in abundance there.
He added: “I really love the attitudes of a lot of the people on the west coast of Scotland, it’s a hard place to live and work and there are so many little businesses up and down the coast where people will work terrifically hard to make those businesses work but also help each other out.
“The amount of other businesses that were willing to help our business was unbelievable. The main thing that draws me to this part of the world is the people, well the people and the wilderness.”
Despite this success, Grieve still leads from the front, diving for scallops personally from the company’s boat, Helanda, on the island. He describes the dived scallop as the “most primal of all the seafood that is caught in Scotland”, he said: “When you are diving for scallops, the person is the fishing equipment – there’s no steel, there’s no metal – it’s just you, it’s sinew, it’s blood, it’s bone and it’s hard work.
“It’s so primal because the man or woman has to have the conviction, and the bravery, and the commitment, to jump off of a boat and sink to the sea bed, no matter the weather or the conditions.
“You are not sitting up in the wheelhouse, you are so exposed, you are so vulnerable, and you have to be humble you have to give way to the sea. You can’t dominate it, you can’t bully it, you have got to really commit personally to get a dived scallop, and that’s what I find so exciting.
“You go into this wilderness on your own to come back with this treasure from the sea floor.”
In this post-Brexit world, Grieve sees only opportunity and his views on sustainable fishing lie at the core of everything the ESC does and it’s this that still drives him even now.
“I look to the example of Norway, where the Norwegians own the keys to their marine gardens, they are not European waters, the Norwegians own them. They are not perfect by any means however, they’ve done very well protecting their marine resource.
“I think that following Brexit, it would be fantastic if Scotland and the UK got control of their fishing waters back. If done right, it could be a tremendous boon to coastal communities around the UK, and not just in Scotland.
“With that ownership though comes responsibility, what I would then hate to see is a free for all to develop whereby boom and bust cycles start coming into play. We have to ensure that if we get our gardens back, we have to become great gardeners and that we tend this wild environment and improve its sustainability.
“Fishing is not farming, fishing relies on a wilderness and it relies on the wilderness of the sea, and a wilderness by its nature is an environment where wildlife thrives.
“We are hunters and we also need this wilderness and you’ve got to try hard to protect the wilderness that keeps us alive that gives us all this wild food.
“In order to ensure you can keep getting this wild food you’ve got to ensure the habitat is still there for wilderness to continue to occur.
“For me, it’s completely natural to say we need a complex habitat, we need a truly wild place and for that to occur, we need to protect it and we need to ensure that how we fish is genuinely sustainable.
“What I mean by that is you need to fish in a manner that ensures when you go after your target species you don’t wipe out opportunities for all sorts of other wildlife to exist.”