Net­work build­ing

Prospects ' not so bleak' - but in­dus­try must re­main alert

Fish Farmer - - Aquacultur­e Europe 2016 -

With no fewer than eight pub­li­cised ses­sions, plus other in­dus­try work­shops go­ing on at the same time, it was a pleas­ant sur­prise to find a rea­son­ably sized and very in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence at the shell­fish work­shop. Or­gan­ised by Mark James of MASTS and Ste­fano Car­boni of Stirling Univer­sity, with ad­di­tional in­put from Nick Lake (ASSG), the event was chaired by Nicki Holm­yard.

The or­gan­is­ers had put to­gether an in­ter­est­ing pro­gramme to pro­vide a cross sec­tion of use­ful in­for­ma­tion to the shell­fish grower but also high­light­ing ar­eas where re­search was cried out for. This may have been the more prof­itable line to aim for since it is prob­a­bly fair to say that there are more aca­demics and re­searchers at­tend­ing EAS meet­ings than hard-headed farm­ers.

In the open­ing talk, Aad Smaal of Wa­genin­gen Marine Re­search talked about the Euroshell project and what it had achieved. The meet­ings I at­tended in Ar­ca­chon and Rot­ter­dam as part of Euroshell were very use­ful and have re­sulted in changes of em­pha­sis in re­search.

The aim was to de­velop best prac­tice in get­ting the science to the pro­duc­ers with the hope of build­ing a closer co­op­er­a­tion. As part of this ex­ten­sion, net­works were seen to be im­por­tant but prob­a­bly have yet to ma­te­ri­alise.

Next was Jen­nifer Howie of Food Stan­dards Scot­land talk­ing about the role of FSS in help­ing the shell­fish in­dus­try main­tain food safety and em­pha­sis­ing that it is a bal­ance of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. One of the events she re­ferred to was that of 2013 when an un­fore­seen rapid build-up of Dino­ph­ysis caused real prob­lems for the mus­sel farm­ers.

This was then neatly caught up by the next speaker, Keith David­son of SAMS, who talked about the ‘fu­ture di­rec­tion of HABS man­age­ment’, where work to pre­dict where toxic al­gae blooms might end up can be very im­por­tant both for shell­fish and marine fish farm­ers.

With an un­fore­seen gap in the pro­gramme, one area not sched­uled to be ad­dressed, that of ge­netic se­lec­tion within the shell­fish in­dus­try, was in­cluded, with Pierre Boudry of Ifre­mer gal­lantly step­ping up to give an en­tirely im­promptu talk with­out notes or power point.

We lis­ten when peo­ple chat to us, and es­pe­cially when they are en­thu­si­as­tic. This was the case. The talk did, how­ever, very much high­light the dif­fer­ences be­tween France and Scot­land in that for their oys­ter in­dus­try they have a choice of wild–caught or hatch­ery-reared gi­gas oys­ters.

One prob­lem with this is the hatch­eries, hav­ing de­vel­oped the pro­duc­tion of triploid oys­ters and tetraploid oys­ters as a high tech means of pro­duc­ing oys­ters that can be sold at a pre­mium be­cause they do not ma­ture sex­u­ally, now find these are com­pet­ing with the oys­ters from the wild spat be­ing sold as ‘born at sea’!

He talked about the con­sid­er­able prob­lems of in­tro­duc­ing se­lec­tion into the hatch­ery process since when work­ing with a species in

which one in­di­vid­ual can pro­duce five mil­lion eggs the risks of in­breed­ing are huge. He firmly favoured that it should be com­mer­cial hatch­eries car­ry­ing out the se­lec­tion work, al­though stressed that Ifre­mer would pro­vide sup­port in this.

Tim Bean and Mike Gub­bins, both of Ce­fas Wey­mouth, gave talks on the state of the oys­ter her­pes virus, for which Scot­land still re­mains free for now but for which we need to re­main fully alert to the risks of its in­tro­duc­tion.

Melody Clark of the Bri­tish Antarc­tic Survey came with a ti­tle ‘Shell­fish in a chang­ing world – not so bleak?’ With all the doom and gloom of global warm­ing and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, she ex­plained the think­ing be­hind the project CACHE (Cal­cium in a chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment).

While ac­knowl­edg­ing the fac­tual na­ture of these prob­lems her ‘not so bleak’ ap­proach was to sug­gest mol­luscs adapt rather suc­cess­fully and pro­ceeded to give spe­cific ex­am­ples of ex­per­i­ments and stud­ies that demon­strate ex­actly this, not just in mol­luscs but also in other marine species.

She also gave ev­i­dence that longer term ex­per­i­ments can some­times demon­strate these ben­e­fi­cial adap­tions that are over­looked by short term ex­per­i­ments.

So af­ter some re­as­sur­ance it was time to get the real bad news of the day. Liz Cot­tier-Cook of SAMS, in a talk billed as ‘Prac­ti­cal biose­cu­rity re­sponses to the threat of in­va­sive species’ told us that the in­va­sive species Didem­num vex­il­lum (car­pet sea squirt) had been found in Loch Cr­eran.

What is alarm­ing about this is that de­spite sur­veys car­ried out in 2011 around Largs Ma­rina, where it was first found in Scot­land, this was the first real look for the species car­ried out.

How­ever, the fact that it was an oys­ter farmer who alerted her to the prob­lem and hence alerted Marine Scot­land and SNH, does high­light the im­por­tance of aqua­cul­tur­ists as early warn­ing sys­tems.

Cot­tier-Cook was at pains to stress that it was cru­cial for all or­gan­i­sa­tions, fish farms, shell­fish farms, mari­nas and boat own­ers to be aware of this prob­lem and to have a biose­cu­rity plan in place. There is a guid­ance doc­u­ment avail­able on this at uk/docs/A1294630.pdf.

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