Scottish Mussel Hatchery Project Receives International Boost

An innovative project to get Scottish mussels to spawn in a hatchery environment has received a visit from Tasmanian partners Spring Bay Seafoods – operators of one of the world's few commercial-scale mussel hatcheries.

Date:

Mon, 12 Jun 2017

Source:

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

The partners first met during a four-day fact-finding mission to Spring Bay Seafoods in February 2015. The insights they learned from the visit helped create the £1.7 hatchery at Scalloway’s NAFC Marine Centre.

The trial project in Shetland centres on the testing of the commercial feasibility of producing spat (baby mussels).

The project was launched by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) and University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), with co-funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Now, with the first year of project operations well under way, the team has hosted Spring Bay Seafoods' Hatchery Manager Bryce Daly for a three-week visit to the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Scalloway, Shetland. There, he will be observing the systems in place, sharing his husbandry expertise and helping the team hone the skills necessary to rear mussels in a hatchery environment.

Michael Tait, Chairman of SSMG and Shetland-based mussel farmer, says: “The visit has come at a hugely opportune time for the project. We have had lots of spawning but increasing post-spawn survival rates has been a core focus. Bryce, with his many years of experience in hatchery production, has helped identify several small adjustments that should significantly improve survivability.”

These adjustments are already being implemented and closely monitored on a new batch of mussels, and the project partners are optimistic that they will have the first numbers of hatchery-reared spat going out to farm sea sites soon.

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink at HIE, said: “The region’s aquaculture industry makes a vital contribution to our economy and creates many jobs, often in rural areas. The shellfish industry is ambitious for growth and we are very pleased to be supporting this research project.   The knowledge and experience Spring Bay Seafoods share with Scottish industry is invaluable.”

Currently, Scotland produces over 7,700 tonnes of farmed mussels – 74 per cent of which are produced in Shetland – generating an estimated £11.7m for the economy.

If successful, the pilot hatchery project will lead to a commercial-scale hatchery, resulting in higher and more reliable yields of spat, additional jobs and wider distribution of sites – all of which combined will help towards the Scottish shellfish sector’s growth ambitions of 21,000 tonnes annually by 2030.

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