UK lobster hatchery secures funding to advance European aquaculture

Published on
September 30, 2015

The National Lobster Hatchery out of Padstow in the United Kingdom has been awarded EUR 3 million (USD 3.35 million) in funding to further along a research project focused on the advancement of European aquaculture.

The funds – which were handed out by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – will be put to use on science endeavors and technologies associated with lobster culture under the Lobster Grower 2 project, and will serve to get Europe up to speed with the rest of the world in the realm of seafood farming, reported the Western Morning News.

Lobster Grower 2 is a three-year project involving partnerships between the hatchery and the following institutions: University of Exeter, Westcountry Mussels of Fowey, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Falmouth University. The project will employ the sea-based container culture approach (SBCC) in its early phases to test the holistic application of its systems, according to researchers. Moreover, the project will run out of a pilot scale lobster culture site, where data on a broad range of factors – from practical, operational and environmental to biological, engineering and economical – will be assessed.

"This is the biggest lobster aquaculture research project taking place in Europe at the moment,” said Carly Daniels, lead researcher for the National Lobster Hatchery, to Western Morning News. “Europe is rapidly falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to growing its own seafood and this project is vital in addressing that imbalance. A key component is that lobsters will be grown in systems with no artificial feed inputs.”

“This project represents a huge step forward for the charity. Firstly it will test and develop the technology needed to grow lobsters to a greater age before releasing them into the sea to enhance wild stocks. Secondly it will help us to generate the intellectual property that will, in the future, help fund the charity's important research conservation and education work,” added Dom Boothroyd, general manager of the National Lobster Hatchery for the Western Morning News.

Westcountry Mussels, a mussel farm that began growing the species on ropes in estuaries nearly 25 years ago, has been aiding the National Lobster Hatchery with the first SBCC trials at its St. Austell Bay site.

"Our site was unique in England for the quality of the water, which is essential for both lobsters and top quality mussels," noted Westcountry Mussels owner Gary Rawle to Western Morning News. "We believe this is a great opportunity for a wide and diverse skill set to come together and try something that only a few years ago would have been impossible, yet could now become the future for both lobster farming and enhancing wild stock."

Ultimately, the project will confirm whether or not it is possible to grow one of the most popular U.K. seafood species with the same efficient means employed by other species’ fisheries and hatcheries.

"This means that some of the broader sustainability issues sometimes associated with aquaculture do not apply. In a nutshell we are assessing whether it is possible to grow one of the most valuable species of seafood in the UK, using similar approaches to those used to grow low value species in passive, environmentally friendly systems,” concluded lead researcher Daniels.

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