Shellfish research programme

Blue mussels – one species of shellfish that will be researched under the Calcium in a Changing Environment (CACHE) programme Blue mussels – one species of shellfish that will be researched under the Calcium in a Changing Environment (CACHE) programme

A team of international scientists have launched an ambitious programme to monitor the effects of climate change on shellfish that are vital to the European fishing economy.

The €3.6m programme called Calcium in a Changing Environment (CACHE) will look at how shellfish including oysters, mussels, scallops and clams produce their shells and how a change in environment can affect populations. It will be co-ordinated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge, UK.

“We know very little about how marine animals regulate calcium to produce a shell and how these processes might be affected when the environmental conditions change. This is the major science challenge which our young scientists are going to tackle over the next four years,” said Dr Melody Clark of BAS.

Climate change is a risk to shellfish because their shells are made from calcium carbonate, a substance which dissolves under acidic conditions. The calcium carbonate plays a key role in absorbing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Shellfish also play a crucial role in marine bio-diversity.

Europe’s shellfish industry of so called “Blue economy” is currently worth €500bn every year and also accounts for an estimated 5.4m jobs.

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