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Safeguarding The Shellfish Industry

UK - A project designed to safeguard the Irish Sea's valuable shellfish industry, including cockles, mussels and edible crab, estimated to be worth 54m (62 m) annually, has been launched this week.

The SUSFISH project will involve academics in Ireland and Wales working together to produce guidelines for future fisheries management, ensuring sustainable development of the shellfish industry in Ireland and Wales for the next fifty to 100 years.

The project has been awarded funding from the Ireland Wales Cross Border Territorial Cooperation Programme (INTERREG 4A). Dr Shelagh Malham of Bangor University is leading the partnership from Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities in Wales and University College Cork in Ireland in the (£.2.5 million (€2.9 million) project.

"Climate change is a very real threat to the Irish Sea's shellfish. Increased incidences of disease and death in marine organisms have been linked to climatic alterations and the results of human activity. Addressing the changing climate is at the forefront of global and local concern especially to industries that rely on marine resources.

This project will assess the effects of those impacts in the Irish Sea and determine strategies to safeguard this important marine industry," explains Dr Shelagh Malham, of Bangor University.

Officially launching the project at Bangor University, Dr Tom Pickerell, Director of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain said: "The Shellfish Association of Great Britain welcomes this project. The effects of climate change could be devastating to Irish Sea shellfish and cause considerable environment, economic and social impacts. It is important to determine what measures can be taken regionally to mitigate these effects."

Shellfish are one of its most abundant and diverse groups in the Irish Sea. However there are concerns about the future of this valuable industry. Increased temperature, disease, ocean acidification and invasive species are potential threats faced by the shell-fishing communities.

This project will draw positive opportunities for the Irish Sea shellfish industry, as well as policies for mitigating possible losses due to possible negative effects of global climate change.

The research will identify adaptation and mitigation measures to the impacts of climate change and produce guidelines for the future fisheries management for the area.

Innovatively, SUSFISH will identify the effects that climate change will have on shellfish stocks using a suite of techniques including oceanographic models linked to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) climatic data, historic and current data collation, experimental research and importantly the use of economic assessments to identify economic benefit and sustainable development for the region.

the Fish Site Editor

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