Climate change and fisheries – scientists meet in Swansea
The Department of Biosciences in Swansea University’s College of Science has hosted a three-day meeting of scientists who are collaborating on the multidisciplinary project Shellfish productivity in the Irish Sea: working towards a sustainable future (SUSFISH).
The project, which involves the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cork, Heriott-Watt and Swansea, is coordinated by Bangor University and supported under the Ireland Wales Interreg 4A programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The project aims to develop robust models to predict how climate change over the next few decades will affect commercially important shellfish populations within the Irish Sea region.
During the meeting, there were presentations a wide range of topics ranging from modelling of oceanic currents designed to analyse how the larvae of shellfish are dispersed and how this may change in 50 or 100 years time; the population genetics of shellfish; the effects of ocean acidification on mussels and cockles, and the potential of emerging diseases of clams, mussels, razor shells, crabs and lobsters on this key socio-economic activity in Ireland and Wales.
One of the important features of the project is the interaction with stakeholders and the steering group who advise the investigators and ensure that the research informs both governmental organisations and industry.
London-based Dr Tom Pickerell (pictured), Director of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB), was one of the meeting’s attendees.
Dr Pickerell studied for his first degree in Marine Biology and his doctorate on shellfish genetics at Swansea in the 1990s.
Dr Pickerell said: “The SAGB is the UK trade association for wild-caught and cultivated shellfish and therefore the SUSFISH project is particularly important in helping us achieve our aim of sustainable, profitable shellfisheries.
“We commend the work of the team and look forward continuing our involvement in developing mitigation measures against the impacts of climate change on shellfish and shellfisheries.”
The research project in Swansea University is led by Professor Andrew Rowley from the College of Science, with the collaboration of Dr Claire Vogan from the College of Medicine and Drs Emma Wootton and Ed Pope in the College of Science.
The team has recently expanded, with the arrival of Neil Singleton and Amanda Smith who are both MRes students on the new Aquaculture and Fisheries course. They are carrying out research into crab and lobster diseases and population structure, respectively.
Professor Rowley said: “The Interreg programme is a superb example of how scientists can collaborate together using their complimentary expertise and training to deliver a truly integrated programme for the communities in Ireland and Wales that border the Irish Sea.
“This meeting in Swansea has been extremely productive with many new avenues of research planned.”