First spat from mus­sel hatch­ery goes to sea

Fish Farmer - - News -

THE first mus­sel spat reared at the Scot­tish Shell­fish Hatch­ery Step­ping Stone project in Shet­land was trans­ferred to on-grow­ing sites at sea in Oc­to­ber.

The mile­stone was an­nounced by Daniel Cow­ing, aqua­cul­ture sci­en­tist and tech­ni­cian at the NAFC Ma­rine Cen­tre, and Michael Tait, chair­man of the Scot­tish Shell­fish Mar­ket­ing Group, at the As­so­ci­a­tion of Scot­tish Shell­fish Grow­ers’ an­nual con­fer­ence in Oban.

There, in­dus­try mem­bers were given an up­date on the £1.7 mil­lion, 30-month col­lab­o­ra­tion which also in­volves High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise, the Scot­tish Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Cen­tre and the Euro­pean Mar­itime and Fish­eries Fund.

‘We’re not yet achiev­ing the quan­ti­ties we would like but we are now see­ing lar­vae de­velop through to spat stage and set­tle on to ropes, which is a ma­jor ad­vance in it­self,’ said Cow­ing.

‘The next step will be tak­ing the ropes off­shore, where the spat will be closely mon­i­tored over a grow­ing pe­riod of two years.’

Tait said: ‘It’s a pos­i­tive po­si­tion in which to end what has been a chal­leng­ing but ul­ti­mately in­sight­ful first year. We’ve learned lots about feed re­quire­ments and spawn­ing. Now the key fo­cus is on sur­viv­abil­ity and bac­te­ri­ol­ogy. Get that right and the im­pli­ca­tions for the in­dus­try are very ex­cit­ing.’

The mus­sel in­dus­try is now es­ti­mated to be worth more than £10 mil­lion a year in Scot­land. A com­mer­cial scale hatch­ery would see this value in­crease fur­ther, re­sult­ing in higher and more re­li­able yields, new jobs and greater ex­port po­ten­tial.

Above: Hatch­ery reared mus­sel spat taken off a set­tle­ment rope and placed un­der a mi­cro­scope slide

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