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Sustainable Mussel Culture

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Traditional mussel culture depends on the natural environment for the provision of their feed, seed and space. The culture process is based on nature, depends on nature, and it also contributes to nature. A recent study showed the natural values of mussel culture plots, with more biomass and more biodiversity, being higher than natural mussel beds in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Despite or due to the maintenance and harvest activities of the farmers, mussel stocks on culture plots last longer than natural beds. It was concluded that mussel culture promotes nature conservation.
Given the expected global population increase by 50 % in 2050, there is a strong need for improved food supply. Farming the ocean is a likely option. Aquaculture low in the food chain, without the provision of formulated feed, ie shellfish and seaweed should offer solutions. Given actual production trends in Europe, showing a decrease rather than a production increase, there is a clear need for an innovation agenda for all parties involved: producers, processors, governments, and stakeholders.

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Sustainable Mussel Culture

  1. 1. SUSTAINABLE MUSSEL CULTURE: Profitable for Planet and People Aad Smaal, Wageningen Universiteit and IMARES Yerseke (Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies) Mussel Academy, June 3, 2014
  2. 2. GOALS OF THIS TALK  What are characteristics of shellfish culture ?  What makes it sustainable ?  How can this be further developed ?  Why is this relevant ?
  3. 3. • New institute 2006 • Part of Wageningen UR • 207 employees • Annual turnover € 26 Million 3 sites : = Yerseke 40 p = IJmuiden 87 P = Den Helder 80 p
  4. 4. IMARES YERSEKE - location Yerseke 40 people 6 PhD’s, students - > 50 Years shellfish research - monitoring & assessment - carrying capacity - shellfish farming - now including fish farming, integrated culture and coastal zone management Yerseke, centre of the shellfish industry
  5. 5. Suspended culture Pole culture TRADITIONAL SHELLFISH CULTURE • extensive : no additions • depends on nature for feed, seed and space • shellfish culture links to nature management
  6. 6. TRADITIONAL MUSSEL CULTURE NL:  Bottom culture since 1870  Based on - new recruitment - feed - proper culture sites  i.e. based on nature  ...and depending on nature technical innovations  ... but also on society: - other (new) stakeholders - license to produce management innovations WADDEN SEA
  7. 7. LIFE CYCLE OF A MUSSEL ADULT LARVAE SPAT SEED
  8. 8. CULTURE CYCLE - traditional ADULT LARVAE SPAT SEED SEED FISHERY HARVEST
  9. 9. CULTURE CYCLE - new ADULT LARVAE SPAT SEED SEED FISHERY HARVEST SEED COLLECTORS HATCHERY
  10. 10. Seed Mussel Collector : = Net or rope in the water column = Substrate for larvae
  11. 11. INNOVATION: SEED MUSSEL COLLECTORS (SMC) Seed collection : since 2007 Increase from 2 to 15 mln kg Seed fishery : On average 2007-2012: 20 mln kg Largely variable 2010 and 2011 : 0 2012: 40 mln kg need: > 40 mln kg SMC = technical innovation SMC harvest Red = wild catch
  12. 12. Court decision: fishery may be harmful Response of industry : - Uncertainty: fishery policy promised time for innovation till 2020 - Anger: negative impact was not proven but suggested - Public action: against the “green lies” Response of NGO’s : - It is the Ministry that was blamed by the court for lack for clear policy Response of Ministry : - mediation agreement DRIVER: CONFLICT DUE TO COURT DECISION 2008 Stop the green lies Environmentalists not against mussel industry
  13. 13. AGREEMENT ON MUSSEL TRANSITION : 2009 - 2020 • No court cases • Stepwise decrease of bottom seed fishery and development of SMC • Closure of Wadden Sea areas for fishery Oktober 2008 Agreement between stakeholders • Mid term evaluation 2014 management innovation
  14. 14. Research framework  Traditional mussel culture depends on mussel seed fished from wild beds in the Wadden Sea  Mussel seed is fished on wild sublittoral beds by bottom dredging after new spatfall in autumn on unstable beds (green), and next spring on relatively stable beds (red)  Fishery may disrupt benthic habitats including their natural values  In case of doubt: no N2000 permit  Not only in NL, relevant for Europe Research questions
  15. 15. Research approach I – Seed fishery impact on natural values: before – after, control – impact (BACI) II - Comparison of natural values = biodiversity of: ● wild mussel beds ● mussel culture plots ● other sublittoral habitats in the western Wadden Sea
  16. 16. Sampling stations western wadden sea: 40 * 2 * 4 ha plots Sampling inner 100*100 m Mussel spatfall driven distribution Sampling period 2006 - 2011 Closed Open
  17. 17. Impact Control Suction dredge Box core
  18. 18. Mussel densities per plot : t0 / t1 1 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis 2 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis Autumn fishery: t0=Before t1=After control impact 3 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis 4 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis Spring fishery: Before After
  19. 19. Mussel biomass per plot over time excl spatfall 5 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis 7 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis 9 2 0 Ref 2 0 Vis after 1 yr 3 yr 5 yr after spring fishery spring spring control impact
  20. 20. CONCLUSIONS FISHERY IMPACTS Mussel biomass  Autumn fishery: decrease of mussel biomass, no significant difference between fished and control plots  Spring fishery: significant difference, lower biomass for 2 years after fishery on fished plots  After 3 years no difference impact and control sites: wild mussel beds have limited longevity, no dramatic fishery impact  What about mussels on culture plots ?
  21. 21. Culture plot biomass (red) > Wild beds (green) MUSSEL BIOMASS WILD BEDS / CULTURE PLOTS
  22. 22. BIODIVERSITY WILD BEDS / CULTURE PLOTS Survey on wild mussel beds, oyster beds, and mussel culture plots; 2008 – 2010: 568 stations in 3 yrs shellfish beds = biodiversity hot spots All stations Without M & O M O Nr of species Nr of samples
  23. 23. Species nr wild beds / culture plots • Total 108 species in 159 box cores • 84 species on wild beds (5 unique) • 102 species on mussel culture plots (23 unique) • 16 species were invasive and were all found in both habitats • Typical species: wild: barnacles, sea anemones culture: ragworm, crab, starfish
  24. 24. CONCLUSION  Mussel beds are biodiversity hot spots  More mussels on culture plots  More biodiversity on culture plots  Wild beds sensitive to predation, better survival in low salinity areas, with lower biodiversity  Fishery impact less dramatic than originally thought: maintenance activity by the farmers enhances survival  Paves the way to combine exploitation and nature conservation: Profit and Planet
  25. 25. LEAFLET SHELLFISH FARMERS USA
  26. 26. GOALS OF THIS TALK √ What are characteristics of shellfish culture ? nature based √ What makes it sustainable ? Profit and Planet √ How can this be further developed ? combine exploitation with other functions  Why is this relevant ? People
  27. 27. FUTURE PRODUCTION Global view: ● World population 1 ½ * (6 >> 9 mrd). ● Global welfare per capita : 5 * ● Pressure on earth: ~2 * lower ● Challenge : 1 ½ * 5 * 2 = 15 * so efficient Seafood: ● Agrification of the oceans: blue growth Challenge for Europe
  28. 28. PRODUCTION TRENDS Asia + 5 % /yr Europe – 2 % / yr Compensated by price > European shellfish culture: • Tradition driven production • Small enterprises • Limiting factors • Competing claims • Equal level playing field PERSPECTIVES • Market pull • High-quality products • Low-food chain production
  29. 29. Duarte et al, 2009: Will oceans help feed humanity? - Mariculture could be expanded to meet global demands and should be based on low trophic level production mussels, meat of the future
  30. 30. FED VS NON FED AQUACULTURE (FAO, 2012) Decrease in % non fed low food chain culture Challenge for shellfish production
  31. 31. Duarte et al , 2007: Rapid domestication of marine species in <100 years FAO, 2012 Bivalve mollusc species in culture > 70 PERSPECTIVE: DOMESTICATION
  32. 32. Analysis of culture perspectives of valuable species for Europe basis for diversification Ranking, Based on - aquaculture experience - native - price - culture time
  33. 33. controlled production of spat: = prerequisite for breeding and selection = triploids, better growth, stronger shells and byssus threads, low allergen shellfish, ... PERSPECTIVE: HATCHERY / NURSERY SYSTEMS
  34. 34. Culinary biodiversity: fruit de mer > 15 species
  35. 35. Thank you

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