The aquaculture industry supports employment and the economic wellbeing of many fragile rural communities across Scotland. The Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2014 shows that there has been a decrease in queen scallop production (45%) but an increase in scallop production (20%) from registered scallop farming sites during 2014. Both these sectors continue to target small niche markets. The ministerial group for sustainable aquaculture (MGSA) has been established to support Scotland’s aquaculture industry to achieve sustainable growth targets, with due regard to the marine environment, by 2020. The shellfish working group is one of seven working groups under MGSA. The group has a published programme of work including the development of an industry lead plan to identify potential future growth and highlight constraints, opportunities and requirements http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/MGSA/Shellfishwg.
We are not aware of any direct Scottish Government investment in technology to facilitate the collection of scallops by remote operated vehicles. However, Seafish the body set up by the fisheries act 1981 to improve efficacy and raise standards across the seafood industry, has previously researched the potential of an autonomous scallop harvesting platform. A copy of the report can be found here: http://www.seafish.org/media/Publications/10413_Shellfishharvestingplatform.pdf
With regards to new methods of fishing for scallops, the Scottish Government has supported initiatives to encourage the development of dredge design such as a competition run in 2009 to develop a new form of scallop dredge. Seafish has researched scallop gear for both king and queen scallops which can be found on their website: http://www.seafish.org/.