The UK’s biggest lobster culture project, Lobster Grower 2, was officially launched at the Carlyon Bay Hotel in Cornwall on 15th June. The event showcased this exciting new project, which will make a series of breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with sea-based lobster aquaculture.
The Lobster Grower 2 launch event, spearheaded by the project lead, The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH), attracted a selection of the great and good of Cornwall including members of Cornwall Council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), industry representatives and the scientific community.
The event provided the perfect platform to inform a diverse range of sectors about the ambitions of Lobster Grower 2 and how it fits in with the UK’s plan for sustainable seafood production. Members of the project consortium were on hand to showcase the project, the University of Exeter (UoE), Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMoF), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Falmouth University.
The project is part funded by Innovate UK and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), through the Agri-Tech catalyst scheme with remaining funds being provided by Industry Partners (NLH and WMoF) and the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers.
Lobster Grower 2 follows on from a successful early stage project which developed an innovative low carbon approach for rearing lobsters at sea, Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC). The project will run the world’s first pilot scale SBCC lobster growing site to assess performance, develop holistic application of the systems and gather practical, operational, environmental, biological, engineering and economic data that can be used to develop an essential tool to encourage and inform future investment. In terms of environmental credentials, farmed fish and seafood has received its fair share of bad press. This project specifically seeks to address these issues from the outset, thorough environmental and welfare evaluations of the operations.
The launch event saw several informative speeches introduced by Dom Boothroyd, General Manager of the NLH. “The NLH has a clear vision which is divided into 2 parts. The first is about making the lobster fisheries more productive through stock enhancement processes and Lobster Grower 2 aims to develop the tools needed to release larger, environmentally enriched lobsters into the wild. The second part is about unlocking the barriers associated with farming lobsters in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way”.
Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and speaker at the launch event said “This is an exciting project with great potential to pioneer a new approach to aquaculture. The project will create new commercial opportunities for Cornish lobsters to be sold all over the world using a sustainable and low carbon process.”
Councillor Edwina Hannaford added ‘This project provides the opportunity to explore how we can develop the Cornish aquaculture sector. It’s a fine example of collaboration between environmentalists, research scientists, our universities and business.’
Dr Carly Daniels from the National Lobster Hatchery and principle investigator of Lobster Grower 2 said “we are at a very important and fascinating stage of the project, with the deployment of 15,000 juvenile lobsters into the pilot lobster farm planned for the end of June 2016. These lobsters will be closely monitored over the 3-year project with environmental drivers and impact along with organism status being investigated”.
This launch day also saw the projects first Industrial Steering Committee meeting, attended by representatives from Tesco, Waitrose, Lyons Seafoods and Westcountry Mussels of Fowey. This committee will help to steer the project throughout its 3-year duration.
Dr Carly Daniels concluded ‘The event was a great success and gave a vision of the future. The backdrop for the whole event was the Westcountry Mussels of Fowey mussel farm where the lobster trials will be taking place over the next 3 years’.
(From left) Jean Taylor MBE, Edwin Derriman MBE and Councillor Edwina Hannaford discuss Lobster Grower 2 during the launch event.