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Ireland, Wales team on €1.4 million seed mussels project

Pilot project hopes to create a data portal for small-scale mussels producers in the Irish Sea.

Ireland’s seafood development agency BIM and the Centre for Applied Marine Sciences at Bangor University, Wales on Monday announced the launch of a €1.4 million ($1.5 million) pilot project to create a portal bringing together scientific research in the Irish Sea from both Ireland and Wales. 

This collaborative project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and will focus on information of particular relevance to the mussel producing sector in the pilot phase. 

It is hoped the successful trialling of the pilot project will pave the way for the sharing of valuable data across the board in relation to the Irish Sea.

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The pilot program will test the feasibility of a larger repository by initially focusing on the sharing of information in relation to seed mussel. 

It will make available all the latest data on the positions of shellfish seed collection sites and seek to broaden the understanding of shellfish larvae movement within the Irish Sea. 

This type of information is essential to mussel producers and could greatly assist in the future sustainable development of the industry, BIM said in a statement.

The economic benefit of aquaculture and fisheries in the Irish Sea is heavily important to both the Irish and Welsh economies.

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According to the latest figures from BIM, the Irish mussel sector experienced another challenging year in 2016 production with combined production volume of 16,000 metric tons and a value of €12 million ($12.9 million).

This value is slightly down on 2015 values and reflects the continued challenge of acquiring seed mussels.

Seed mussel supply is a limiting factor to industry expansion and the lack of seed availability reduces the volume and profitability of production within the cross border area, BIM said. Locating shellfish seed can also often be a prohibitive cost for small and medium enterprises.

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