• Management recommendations for the sustainable exploitation of mussel seed in the Irish Sea

      Maguire, J A; Knights, T; Burnell, G; Crowe, T; O'Beirn, F.X.; McGrath, D; Ferns, M; McDonough, N; McQuaid, N; O'Connor, B; Doyle, R; Newell, C; Seed, R; Smaal, A; O'Carroll, T; Watson, L; Dennis, J; Ó Cinneide, M (Marine Institute, 2007)
      As it currently stands, the management of the bottom mussel aquaculture in Ireland is a complex process that is governed by three overriding factors; these are; 1) Government policy and regulation, 2) industry and economics and 3) Science and biology. These three factors are influenced by a range of different issues that influence the implementation of resource management either individually or in combination and include, inter alia, aquaculture licensing, carrying capacity, company structure and operating practices, animal health legislation, vessel registration and licensing and North/South agreements, prevailing weather conditions and uncertainty of seed supply. The mussel seed fishery in the Irish Sea, as the primary source of seed, is integral to the continued viability of the bottom mussel sector in Ireland. This report is the outcome of a project initiated over concerns raised regarding the sustainability of the fishery. A goal of this project is to develop and implement a science based management system for the sustainable exploitation of seed mussels in the Irish Sea. A specific goal of the project was to identify environmental drivers governing the distribution and abundance of the seed mussel resources in the Irish Sea. A number of outputs were expected from this project: 1. A literature search and review of existing biological, fisheries, survey and hydrographic data. 2. Studies to estimate adult reproductive cycles and spatfall patterns. 3. Hydrographic models of targeted areas of high mussel population. These models allow for behavioural characteristics of the larval swimming phases. 4. Draft a management strategy to detail the optimum manner in which to effect the sustainable exploitation of the resource, including the hatchery option. This report addresses the final workpackage above, wherein a series of recommendations encompassing both management and research aspects, based upon the scientific outputs of the project, are presented.