The Irish mussel sector's production volume in 2016 of 16,000 tonnes worth €12 million was slightly down on 2015.
The Irish mussel sector's production volume in 2016 of 16,000 tonnes worth €12 million was slightly down on 2015.

Ireland and Wales launch €1.4m seed mussel project

Ireland’s seafood development agency BIM and the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University in Wales have launched a €1.4 million pilot project for scientific research into seed mussels.

Publisert

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Wales Ireland Cooperation, the collaborative project will test the feasibility of a larger repository by first focusing on the sharing of information in relation to seed mussel.

It will make available the latest data on the positions of shellfish seed collection sites and seek to broaden the understanding of shellfish larvae movement within the Irish Sea, with the aim of assisting in the future sustainable development of the industry.

Challenging year

Aquaculture and fisheries in the Irish Sea are estimated to contribute €254 million in total to the Welsh and Irish economies (€58 million Welsh and €196 million Irish). According to the latest figures from BIM, the Irish mussel sector experienced another challenging year in 2016, with combined production volume of 16,000 tonnes and a value of €12 million. This value is slightly down on 2015 values and reflects the continued challenge of acquiring seed mussels.

Locating shellfish seed can be prohibitively expensive for small and medium enterprises.
Locating shellfish seed can be prohibitively expensive for small and medium enterprises.

Seed mussel supply is a limiting factor to industry expansion and the lack of seed availability reduces the volume and profitability of production within the cross border area.  Locating shellfish seed can often be a prohibitive cost for small and medium enterprises.

Shelagh Malham, from the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University, said: “Working with our Irish counterparts gives us the opportunity to manage common valuable resources between our shores, and to improve our understanding of the processes involved.”

Shared resource

Ben Dallaghan, GIS Office, BIM said: “Seed mussel and other shellfish in the Irish Sea are a shared resource and in order to manage them effectively research effort should be conducted using geographic units relevant to the species in question and not country borders. Any data and scientific conclusions leading to a better understanding of seed settlement patterns would enormously benefit the shellfish industries in both Ireland and Wales.”

Explaining the portal objectives, Malham added: “The pilot operation will focus on improved knowledge flow as well as enhancing research, development and innovation in the shellfish industry concentrating on working with SMEs.

“Crucial to the economic development of the Irish Sea region and to this operation in particular, is the understanding that although oceans do not have territorial boundaries, they have fronts, gyres and residual currents all of which alter in response to weather and environmental conditions.

“Shellfish larvae are highly mobile and it would be impossible for any one country to correctly manage this shared resource”.