Scottish researchers follow the trends towards new knowledge about shellfish farming

Scottish researchers follow the trends towards new knowledge about shellfish farming

The increased mussel production is part of industry organization Scotland Food and Drink’s ambition to double Scottish food production by 2030.

Scottish researchers have therefore studied how mussel larvae move in order to give mussel farmers and other shellfish farmers important information on where and how to farm them.

The discovery: everything revolves around the current.

The University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture used genetic testing of mussels at sampling sites along the west coast of Scotland, combined with mathematical modeling to understand where mussels grow well.

Research in this area has been limited so far, according to PhD student Ana Corrochano-Fraile. “Mussel farming has been a bit of a black box”,he said. “The larvae float in the water, we put ropes in the sea and the larvae appear there. If the stock goes down, we don’t know why. If the quality drops, we don’t know why.

The team found that mussel larvae move in currents from south to north. “We have found that within 30 days a hopper cloud can move from the Scottish border near Stranraer to Islay [about 80 miles] for example. They then attach themselves to the substrate – anything solid in the water, which can be ropes – and grow for a year and a half until they start reproducing. The next generation of larvae are carried by the current from Islay to the Outer Hebrides in 30 days – that is much further, as the current is faster there.

She added: “Knowing where mussels come from and where they go tells us a lot about the best and worst locations for farms.

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