€1.4 million project will try to solve seed mussel supply mysteries
It is hoped that the successful trialing of the pilot project will pave the way for the sharing of valuable data across the board in relation to the Irish Sea. It has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Wales Ireland Cooperation.
The initial stage will test the feasibility of a larger repository by initially focusing on the sharing of information in relation to seed mussel.
It will make available all 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.
This type of information is essential to mussel producers and could greatly assist in the future sustainable development of the industry.
The economic benefit of aquaculture and fisheries in the Irish Sea is very important to both the Irish and Welsh economies, valued at €254 million in total (€58 million Welsh and €196 million Irish).
The mussel aquaculture industry is a major component of this and, according to the latest figures from BIM, the Irish mussel sector experienced another challenging year in 2016 production 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.
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. ■