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Mussel trial underway

The hatchery at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway. Photo: Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre

A £1.9 MILLION trial to set up Scotland’s first commercial mussel hatchery in Shetland is now underway.

The hatchery, part of a two-year research and innovation project, is based at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway.

It aims to test the commercial feasibility of producing spat (baby mussels) in a controlled environment.

Over the last few months, algal culture and water treatment facilities were installed at the college, as well as tank room resources for spawning, larvae incubation and grow-out.

If the trial is a success, it could pave the way for a national hatchery to be created in Scotland, or series of regional hatcheries.

The project brings together a number of partners and agencies, with Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG), University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Enterprise primarily involved.

Co-funding is also coming from from the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Chairman of the SSMG Michael Tait said it is both “empowering and daunting” to reach this stage in the process.

“We will be working with methodologies that have proven successful in Tasmania and New Zealand as our starting point, and exploring how and where they can be adapted to the specific mussel species and marine conditions found here in Scotland in order to produce spat on a commercial scale,” he said.

Aquaculture manager at the NAFC Marine Centre, Gregg Arthur, added that he was “hugely grateful” for the support that has been given to the project so far.

Over 7,000 tonnes of mussels are produced in Scotland each year, with Shetland accounting for almost 80 per cent.

It is said that commercial hatcheries would make for “higher and more reliable yields”.

 

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