Prospects for cultivating mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, cockles and seaweed in the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon (TLSB) are promising, according to a new report from Seafish.
The report states that all of these species have local and international market potential, although trials would be needed to see how the shellfish and seaweed (most likely porphyra) would grow inside the proposed development – which is due to consist of 16, 23-foot diameter hydro turbines, spread along a 6-mile u-shaped breakwater.
Should it take place, the project is projected to cost £1.3 billion and generate enough electricity for 155,000 homes, with a lifespan of 120 years. If it goes ahead it would be the first time that offshore marine renewable energy generation has been combined with aquaculture, says the report, which was led by Martin Syvret (Aquafish Solutions Ltd) and Dr Andrew Woolmer (Salacia Marine) in collaboration with industry partners.
It uses Swansea Bay as a case study to examine wider opportunities for aquaculture in and around enclosed marine water bodies, such as ports, natural lagoons, estuaries, sea lochs and managed retreats. The report is accompanied by an Aquaculture Site Scoping Matrix, which can be used by industry to identify further potential locations for aquaculture operations.
This SIP project also includes a generic shellfish hatchery design aimed at tackling the shortage of shellfish seed that can be raised to adulthood by commercial shellfish farmers; an acknowledged bottleneck that has held back the expansion of aquaculture in the UK. It is hoped that industry will be able to use the hatchery design to help increase the supply of seed and boost production.
Lee Cocker, Aquaculture Manager at Seafish, said: "We are proud to have supported this strategic and innovative SIP project that will assist the growth of the UK aquaculture sector, and we hope that the industry can make good use of the findings.
"The prospect of sitting aquaculture within...the world's first tidal lagoon renewable power development is undoubtedly exciting, however, the findings of the project are also pertinent to other offshore renewables sites such as wind farms. The project helps provide an overview of aquaculture species and techniques that could be considered in other marine enclosed water bodies, and the hatchery aspect has the potential to support a more general expansion of seed availability for UK aquaculture."
The report adds that the delay in any final decision about whether the proposed lagoon in Swansea Bay will go ahead has significantly impacted operational planning by TLSB and therefore their ability to provide detailed spatial and operational information. Whilst the tidal rises and falls within the lagoon and relative extents of the inter and subtidal ranges will remain similar to baseline, the final layout of other facilities, such as for recreation, are yet to be confirmed which makes it impossible at this stage to describe in detail the placement of suspended mariculture cultivation activities.