Supporting UK and international businesses
ShellEye will work with farmers to develop new approaches to help manage water quality related risk and minimise potential impacts on their business. ShellEye will develop a shellfish-specific water quality bulletin service to provide an early warning service for farmers.
In the UK, shellfish farming generates £20-25 million each year, with a huge opportunity for UK export expansion as world shellfish consumption is growing at approximately 5% a year. However, the quality of shellfish is significantly impacted by the water quality of coastal seas. Water quality can vary significantly over space and time due to a range of factors including the weather, sea temperature and pollution events.
Regulatory monitoring is used to regularly test water quality in a wide range of locations but it is expensive and is not always effective in detecting one-off or small-localised events. When poor water quality is detected this can result in the short-term closure of farms, costing a shellfish business up to £162K per closure due to loss of stock and sales.
Therefore, in order to expand and capitalise on new markets farmers need to be able to monitor water quality, predict when levels may be harmful to shellfish and manage their crop accordingly.
A warning service customised for shellfish farms will help farmers make informed decisions for harvesting, stock control and mitigation against reduced water quality. For example, harvesting early and selling stock at wholesale prices may be preferable prior to a forecasted period of poor water quality, as the future poor water quality could result in a closure and loss of sales and stock.
ShellEye will work with shellfish farmers throughout the project to test new methods for monitoring water quality and ensure the outcomes of the project are appropriate and relevant to their needs.