The seminar, entitled “Supporting Sustainable Oyster Aquaculture for the Atlantic Region of Europe”, focused on the migration of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in the Atlantic Area of Europe and attracted more than 30 stakeholders from the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.
In the morning session, the project partners explained their main findings relating to the new developments in genetic and hatchery technologies of the flat oyster (Ostrea edulis), the genetic dispersion, habitat specialisation and hybridisation of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), the environmental effects of the Pacific oyster on native benthic communities, and a model to calculate the larval dispersal of Pacific oysters from Milford Haven, Wales.
Jon King, SEAFARE project coordinator, stated: “Currently many Pacific oyster farmers are finding it impossible to renew or obtain new orders within a realistic time frame, particularly when the farms are situated in Natura 2000 sites, due to the ongoing debate about possible effects the Pacific oyster may have on the environment and native oyster populations. The growth of the native oyster industry is hampered by mortality due to diseases such as Bonamia, and requires high quality, hatchery-produced disease-resistant stock.
"The SEAFARE project has studied the established wild populations of Pacific oysters, looking at their genetics, changes in associated ecological communities in areas where they are established, and a larval dispersal case study. The flat oyster studies have supported improved hatchery production of the European oyster. SEAFARE can offer baseline information to policy makers and environmental managers involved in regulation of the industry”.
The afternoon session included an open discussion in which the attendees had the opportunity to express their opinions about the problems the oyster industry is facing in the UK.
Mandy Pyke from Seafish said: “Oyster farms are producing food for human consumption. However, legislation is quite restrictive in the UK for oyster farms. The industry needs more scientific advice in order to talk to environmental managers. The data presented at this seminar is very useful for us. The industry would like to be involved in research and we would be happy to strength our collaboration with scientific institutions”.
The SEAFARE project aims to promote the diversification of the aquaculture industry by providing a greater range of species and alternative environmentally-friendly production systems. All the initiatives developed by the project are assessed for their commercial applicability through close collaboration with stakeholders and SMEs. The project involves 14 partners, bringing together applied R&D centres, aquaculture industry organisations and environmental agencies across the Atlantic maritime region to promote the sustainable expansion of European aquaculture.