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SEAFARE Project Addresses the Future of European Smelt

22 April 2013

UK - The SEAFARE project held a two-day workshop on the status of the European smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) on 26 March 2013 in Bangor University, Wales. During the workshop, 25 attendees reviewed the status of the European smelt across its range, the current knowledge base relating to the species and newly developed rearing techniques that will contribute to its conservation.

Dr Nicholas Jones, Bangor University, was one of the organisers of the workshop: “The workshop was well attended by academics, aquatic consultants and fishery managers alike. Speakers from Estonia, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and from across the UK gave some interesting presentations on the current status of the species, with subsequent discussions among attendees on the conservation and future of the European smelt.”

The European smelt, also known as the “cucumber smelt” due to its similar odour, is a small-to-medium sized fish typically ranging from 20-25cm in size. Smelt populations contribute to supporting small-scale commercial fisheries as they are fished for human consumption, animal feed and bait. The historical decline of the species, an estimated loss of 33 per cent of known smelt populations in England and Wales and a loss of 80 per cent of sites in Scotland, has resulted in the inclusion of the European smelt in the UK priority species list in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).

One of the key outputs of the SEAFARE project is Conservation Aquaculture Rearing Techniques for the European Smelt, a manual which has been developed by Bangor University. Dr Jones is a co-author of the manual: “The aim of this manual is to provide the end-user with all the necessary information required to successfully culture the European smelt for conservation aquaculture purposes. It will also be of benefit to those looking to culture this species commercially.”

The SEAFARE project aims to promote the diversification of the aquaculture industry by providing a greater range of species and alternative environmentally-friendly production systems. All the initiatives developed by the project are assessed for their commercial applicability through close collaboration with stakeholders and SMEs. The project involves 14 partners, bringing together applied R&D centres, aquaculture industry organisations and environmental agencies across the Atlantic maritime region to promote the sustainable expansion of European aquaculture.

 

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