Researchers at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture have been awarded funding to assist with establishing Scotland’s first mussel hatchery. Mussels are the second most important aquaculture product in Scotland and support hundreds of jobs located in rural communities. The steady growth of this sector in recent years has been hampered by the unreliable availability of seed which is crucial for production. However, the new £1.9 million project aims to secure a prosperous future for the Scottish mussel industry by addressing this bottleneck.
Image by Denny Conway
Disease is one of the biggest threats to the hatchery production of bivalves and a team of researchers led by Dr Stefano Carboni will investigate this important aspect during the setting up of the trial hatchery in Scalloway. Dr Carboni said ‘This is an ambitious project and our role is to identify the best ways to minimise the risks posed by bacterial disease. We will investigate the potential sources of undesirable bacteria in the new hatchery and implement a plan to mitigate against these microbes’.
The funding announcement was welcomed by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney who said: “The Scottish government is fully supportive of the sustainable growth of aquaculture, underpinned by world-leading science, research and innovation. This stepping-stone initiative is crucial to our shellfish industry, enhancing the opportunity for significant future growth”.
Dr Carboni will be assisted by bacteriologists Dr Mags Crumlish and Dr Andrew Desbois of the Institute of Aquaculture. The project was funded by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise and is a collaboration between the University of Stirling, the North Atlantic Fishery College, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group and Xelect Ltd. The other research effort will focus on genetic markers, live feeds, metamorphosis and settlement of mussel larvae, and transfer of settled stock to sea.