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Irish Sea

The Irish Sea (Fig. 1) is an over-exploited resource in terms of fishing, but within the area, shellfish are one of the most abundant and diverse groups.Concerns centre on the bio logical, genetics, environmental and economic impacts of climate change from businesses in the shellfish industry. Increased temperature, disease prevalence and invasive species are potential threats faced by the shell-fishing communities. The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCIPP: www.mccip.org.uk) has stated that acidification is a real threat with models suggesting that surface pH has decreased by 0.1 pH unit since 1750 and will lead to major negative impacts on shell-forming organisms within this century.

Shellfisheries in the Irish Sea account for a significant proportion of revenue feeding into the local economies of the order  of  about 62.2M Euros (52,500t) in 2002. Mariculture along the Irish coast is worth about 6.9M Euros to the local economy. This is a highly valuable resource for the mainly rural region which will be impacted by climate change. Total Irish shellfish landings in 2006 were about 38, 000 tonnes (€44 m), higher than those for the finfish industry (Browne et al., 2007).

In Wales the export of edible crabs exceeds 25M Euros p.a. providing significant employment within the rural economy in mid to north Wales. The harvest of mussels in Wales is more than half of the total mussels produced in the UK. In the Menai Strait alone, in excess of 11,000 tonnes p.a of mussels (<£10 million) are harvested. Interestingly, tentimes more shellfish were landed in Wales than finfish in 2004 (DEFRA). Climatic impacts on the shellfish industry would significantly alter Welsh and Irish economies, with rural areas being particularly affected. 

Figure 1. Project Area:  The Irish Sea

References
Browne, R., Deegan, B., O’Carroll, T., Norman, M. and Ò’Cinnéide, M., 2007. Status of Irish Aquaculture, 2006. Marine Institute/Bord Iascaigh Mhara/Taighde Mara Teo: 113pp.