Those interested in UK shellfish cultivation and native oyster restoration have raised concerns about availability of hatchery produced seed (young shellfish) for the UK’s oyster and shellfish beds. We asked the experts. Responding to concerns among those who are keen to ensure that UK shellfish aquaculture is in a position to thrive and grown in coming years, The Fishmongers’ Company, working with key partners from the aquaculture industry, have undertaken a survey to ascertain industry priorities for securing the UK’s seed supply.
The resulting report, authored by the Company’s Fisheries Programme Manager Dr Eleanor Adamson, alongside Martin Syvret (Aquafish Solutions) and Dr Andy Wolmer (Mumbles Oyster Company), outlines opinions from across the industry regarding the current and future demand for shellfish seed.
The report’s findings highlight that amongst pacific oyster growers, the largest market for hatchery produced seed, there is generally little concern regarding seed availability and plans for expansion are limited. The research found that the existing UK-based hatcheries had sufficient capacity to supply quantities exceeding the current market demand, raising significant questions regarding the business case for up-scaling the level of commercially produced oyster seed.
However, the research also found that British hatcheries are having to work harder to produce the same volumes of shellfish seed. These findings highlight that there could prove a strategic case to support current hatchery businesses to maintain capacity in disease-free areas and the UK’s seed supply.