Aquaculture equipment specialist Fusion Marine is participating in a multi-partnership project to develop a sea based lobster rearing system that could ultimately benefit coastal communities.
Under the initiative, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has teamed up with Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to joint fund an industry and academic partnership which aims to develop an exciting new approach to sea based rearing systems for European Lobster.
Known as Lobster Grower, the 15 month consortium driven project is led by the National Lobster Hatchery (NLH) based in Padstow. The project aims to develop the technology required to grow lobsters at sea in containers, which will help the partners to assess the overall potential for the aquaculture of this much sought after crustacean.
Working closely with other project partners, Fusion Marine will utilise its specialist expertise in plastics technology and aquaculture system design to help develop novel sea based rearing systems for lobster.
Rhuaraidh Edwards, Technical Sales Engineer for Fusion Marine, said: “We are delighted to participate in this exciting multi-partnership project that has the real potential to benefit coastal communities. Our expertise in plastics technology has already been successfully used in finfish and mollusc farming and this new pilot project will enable us to focus on the challenging task of helping develop a viable culture system for lobsters.”
Carly Daniels, Head of Research and Development for the National Lobster Hatchery says: “This grant presents an exciting opportunity to do something cutting-edge and innovative that will have a notable impact on the development of a novel species for aquaculture. This project is a huge step forward for the National Lobster Hatchery. Firstly, it will generate technology that will enable us to grow juvenile lobsters to a greater age before releasing them into the sea to enhance local stocks, whilst at the same time providing them with environmental enrichment so that they are better able to cope with life in the wild.
“Secondly, it will generate the intellectual property within the charity that we hope will generate funds in the future for our ongoing conservation, education and research work. In the long-term, it could facilitate the development of a lobster farming industry that would not compete with the existing market – which is supplied by the fishery – but instead actually generate market diversification.”
As well as Fusion Marine, other partners in the NLH led consortium are The University of Exeter, Falmouth University, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), and West Country Mussels of Fowey.
The TSB and BBSRC funding for the project comes via the Agri-Tech Catalyst initiative, which focuses on supporting innovation within business to help ensure the successful exploitation of new ideas and drivers of economic growth.
Fusion Marine is a leading manufacturer of bespoke high quality equipment, particularly for the fish farming, leisure and utility industries. More information at www.fusionmarine.com
The National Lobster Hatchery
The NLH is a far sighted project established in 2000 by the Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee. It became a charity in 2004 and operates as a Social Enterprise. It was set up to operate a stock enhancement and public engagement programme, encouraging scientists and fishermen to collaborate whilst seeding lobsters on their fishing grounds. Increasingly the charity sees its role as a scientific centre, that seeks to understand better how to restock a fishery (should stocks collapse) or how to make an existing fishery more productive (in the light of soaring global seafood demand). More information at www.nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk