Bangor University KESS 2 PhD student Andrew van der Schatte Olivier has recently published a paper in the journal Reviews in Aquaculture (Impact Factor 7.139). Working in collaboration with local Welsh mussel producers Deep Dock Ltd, Andrew is currently in the third year of his KESS 2 funded scholarship and his paper estimates the global value of ecosystem services provided by bivalve aquaculture.
Bivalve aquaculture is the marine cultivation of aquatic molluscs such as cockles, mussels and oysters. Being filter feeders, shellfish filter water and particulates creating substrates within their environment. These substrates in turn provide habitats that act as nursery grounds for other marine species, providing a unique ecosystem for the surrounding aquatic life.
The marine farming practice of bivalve aquaculture provides many benefits to society beyond the traditional market value of shellfish as food and the paper estimates these ecosystem services to be worth over $6 billion per year. Goods from provisioning services include meat, worth an estimated $23.9 billion, as well as pearls, shell and poultry grit. Of these secondary products, oyster shell is the most significant, with a global potential worth of $5.2 billion.
An important service provided through bivalve aquaculture is that of regulating nutrient remediation. Cultivated shellfish remove 49,000 tonnes of nitrogen and 6,000 tonnes of phosphorus from the oceans globally, an industry service with a potential worth of $1.2 billion.
Not all ecosystem services have been valued. For example currently, there is little evidence on the scale of cultural services from bivalve aquaculture, but the paper argues that these cultural values are broad ranging, although difficult to quantify or to value.
James Wilson of Deep Dock Ltd. says, “We really value the opportunity to engage in all research, however the area of quantifying the provision of ecosystem goods and services from cultivated shellfish is particularly pertinent, not only within the context of aquaculture but also as a way of better informing society level choices about how we meet our future protein needs in light of population growth and climate change.”
Andrew’s PhD research project is supported by KESS 2 European Social Funds (ESF) through the Welsh Government and by company sponsors Deep Dock Ltd. The project is an industry based collaboration with a supervisory team based at Bangor University (Dr Shelagh Malham and Professor Lewis Le Vay), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Professor Laurence Jones), Aberystwyth University (Professor Michael Christie) and Mr James Wilson (Deep Dock Ltd).
The full published paper can be viewed here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/raq.12301