Project aim: Successful adaptation of the New Zealand system for use in Irish industry
Traditional methods of rope mussel farming are labour intensive, involving the manual cutting of mesh and rope and packing of young mussels by hand.
The New Zealand system allows the packing to be mechanised by using continuous, collector mesh and grow rope - a far more efficient technique.
We imported the technology for potential use on Irish mussel farms.
Our methods: Trailing the technology on commercial mussel farms
We initiated the technology transfer by working with producers (in the late ‘90s) to assess the effectiveness of the continuous ropes, and to undertake a systematically evaluation of the system when employed under Irish conditions.
The work involved:
- providing financial support to farmers to upgrade handling equipment
- numerous cycles of trial and error - modifying the system to suit our blue mussel which are smaller than New Zealand’s greenshell mussel
When we had successfully adapted the system we support the widespread introduction of the technology through
- Disseminated the knowledge to industry - the outcomes of our trials are made available to industry through specialised workshops - which have now become a biennial event
- Grant aid is made available to assist in the capital outlay required to implement the technology
Seeing the benefits: Successful deployment of the technology across the sector
The deployment of the technology was successful and 65-70% of the sectors annual mussel production is now farmed using the New Zealand system.
The system allows our farmers to produce a high value seafood product efficiently, using environmentally sustainable techniques:
- The grow ropes (which the mussels attach to) can be recycled and re-used for many years
- The collector mesh or cotton sock – that holds the mussels to the rope while they adapt to their new environment - is biodegradable
This project continues to evolve:
- An automated harvesting system using a venturii pump has now been installed on 2 farms with excellent results.
- To assist with the supply of biodegradable cotton socking used in the system we have helped to establish a domestic manufacturing operation to produce the socking. This guarantees the supply and allows for the quantities required by our industry.