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Working with the National Lobster Hatchery

06 December 2017
Dr Carly Daniels of the National Lobster Hatchery summerises the collaboration between ShellEye and the Lobster Grower 2 project.
Lobster Grower 2 (LG2) is a project set up to assess the fesibility of rearing a species not currently exploited in the aquaculture industry, the European Lobster (Homarus gammarus). LG2 began in February 2016 with its partnership of organisations receiving funding support from Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers.

The interdisciplinary consortium, led by pioneering conservation, research and education charity, the National Lobster Hatchery (NLH), based in Padstow, Cornwall, UK, consists of the University of Exeter, Westcountry Mussels of Fowey, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Falmouth University.

LG2 uses a system specifically developed for the species (in an early-stage project); a sea based environmentally enriched system, requiring no supplementary feed inputs, known as sea-based container culture (SBCC). LG2’s pilot-scale lobster culture site in St Austell Bay is gathering practical, operational, environmental, biological, engineering and economic data that will be used to develop an essential tool to encourage and inform future investment.

Since the start of the project, more than 25,000 juvenile lobsters have been deployed into SBCC systems at the pilot mariculture site. The growth, survival and health status of these animals are being scientifically monitored to better understand the dynamics of rearing them in a semi-wild environment. The consortium is also trying to understand environmental variables that may be affecting rearing success, such as water quality (chemical, physical and biological) and hydrodynamic water movements. Understanding the marine environment and its effect on stock survival, quality and therefore commercial value is essential.

The partnership of two projects such as Lobster Grower and ShellEye presents a mutually beneficial opportunity to improve efficiency and further the development of the UK’s growing mariculture sector:
LG2 will provide in-situ water quality data to aid the development of forecast models but also provide real-time data on the biological organism status that could help validate modelling. The NLH is also a ShellEye stakeholder and provide practical access to the world’s first pilot scale European lobster SBCC site, providing an opportunity to gather data as well as expertise from specialists in crustacean culture.

ShellEye will provide essential broad-scale environmental data through a customised satellite early warning system, as well as water quality forecast data to improve efficiency and productivity for this emerging UK industry. As such, ShellEye will complement LG2 in providing an enhanced understanding of environmental influences and their effects on lobster production. This collaboration will also aid industry size and stock loss predictions, thereby playing a vital role in understanding the economics of this novel industry.

This partnership could support the expansion of aquaculture in the UK from the outset by minimising risk with regard to site selection and environmental influences, and helping to identify the key environmental drivers of lobster rearing success.

Related Information:

National Lobster Hatchery