First spat from Scottish pilot mussel hatchery goes to sea

Mussel spat reared by the Scottish Shellfish Hatchery Stepping Stone project in Shetland is to be transferred to on-growing sites at sea Mussel spat reared by the Scottish Shellfish Hatchery Stepping Stone project in Shetland is to be transferred to on-growing sites at sea

The first mussel spat reared at the Scottish Shellfish Hatchery Stepping Stone project in Shetland is to be transferred to on-growing sites at sea.

Industry members were given an update on the £1.7m 30-month collaborative project by Daniel Cowing, aquaculture scientist and technician at the NAFC Marine Centre and Michael Tait, chairman of the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, at the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers (ASSG) annual conference in Oban.

“We’re not yet achieving the quantities we would like but we are now seeing larvae develop through to spat stage and settle onto ropes, which is a major advance in itself,” said Mr Cowing.

“The next step will be taking the ropes offshore, where the spat will be closely monitored over a growing period of two years.”

Mr Tait added that it’s a positive end to what has been a challenging but ultimately insightful first year.

“We’ve learned lots about feed requirements and spawning. Now the key focus is on survivability and bacteriology. Get that right and the implications for the industry are very exciting indeed,” he said.

The project also involves Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Also speaking at the ASSG annual conference was Robin Shields, aquaculture innovation manager at SAIC, who provided an update on two additional collaborative projects - one to research the technologies and processes that will help optimise larvae and spat, the other to develop the genetic tools for selective breeding.

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