Ireland’s seafood development agency BIM and the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University, Wales have announced the launch of a €1.4 million pilot project to create a portal that will bring together scientific research in the Irish Sea from both Ireland and Wales.
The funds will be invested in a new project to support the growth of the shellfish industry in Wales and Ireland. The project is being funded through the EU’s Ireland-Wales co-operation programme, which aims to strengthen economic links and stimulate cross-border collaboration in areas including innovation, climate change, cultural and natural resources, heritage and tourism
This pilot programme will test the feasibility of a larger repository by initially focussing 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.
Announcing the launch of the project at a mussel workshop in Wexford, Shelagh Malham, from the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University, Wales 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.”
Also speaking at the launch of the project, 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 and BIM are delighted to collaborate with Bangor University on this project’.