Shellfish Hatchery – Stepping Stone Project

Project Details

Description of project aims

Stepping-stone trial could lead to Scotland’s first commercial mussel hatchery.
Funding has recently been approved for a trial to test the commercial viability of a mussel hatchery in Scotland. The main funders are Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC). The 30-month project could lead to higher productivity in the shellfish industry and support rural businesses and jobs.
Other key partners in the hatchery project include the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Scottish Government.
Shellfish production is a growing industry in Scotland, supporting over 500 jobs across the supply chain, many in rural areas. Mussel production in Scotland reached its highest-ever level in 2014, with Shetland accounting for almost 80% of production.
There is capacity and demand to raise production substantially, if the industry can address issues such as the availability of mussel spat (juvenile mussels). The establishment of a commercial hatchery to produce spat will help to resolve this issue, providing Scottish producers with a reliable supply of spat (and potentially other juvenile shellfish species).
Project publications and reports
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Project details and partners
The main focus of the announced project, which is also supported by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG), and the NAFC Marine Centre at the University of the Highlands and Islands, is to establish a core pilot-scale hatchery at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway, Shetland, and testing the commercial feasibility of spat production.
The project has been split into five work packages and consists of two phases (Phase 1 “Setup and Enabling” and Phase 2 “Research and Development”).
WP1. Algae Cultivation
WP2. Spawning of Mussel Broodstock and Larval Rearing
WP3. Settlement and metamorphosis of mussel larvae, ongrowing of spat and transfer to farm sea sites
WP4. Monitoring spat (seed) performance post-transfer to trial site
WP5. Project Management and Reporting/Dissemination
Overall, the project will run for thirty months (until May 2018) and will cover two production seasons. It is expected that a final report be available in May 2018, for free, via a link from this webpage.

Layman's description

Growing blue mussel larvae to spat ready for transfer to sea to be further rope grown.
Effective start/end date1/01/1630/06/18

Collaborative partners


  • mussel
  • hatchery
  • larvae
  • spat


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