Scottish researchers are tracking new knowledge about shellfish farming

The increase in mussel production is part of industry body Scotland Food and Drink’s ambition to double food production in Scotland by 2030.

So researchers in Scotland have been studying how mussel larvae move to give farmers who raise mussels and other shellfish important information about where and how to grow them.

Discovery: It’s all about the current.

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

Research in this area has so far been limited, according to Ph.D. Ana Corrachan-Freille. “Mussel farming was a black box,”he said. “The larvae swim in the water, we let the cables into the sea, and the larvae appear there. When stocks fall, we don’t know why. When the quality drops, we don’t know why.”

The team found that the mussel larvae move in the current from south to north. “We found that a cloud of larvae can travel from the Scottish border near Stranraer to Islay in 30 days. [about 80 miles] for example. Then they attach themselves to a substrate – something solid in the water, which can be ropes – and grow for a year and a half until they start to reproduce. The next generation of larvae is carried by the current from Islay to the Outer Hebrides in 30 days – a lot further because 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 places to farm.” Scottish researchers are tracking new knowledge about shellfish farming

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