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Work Package 9 - Economics and Bioeconomic Modelling

Economic Implications of Climate Change on Shellfisheries in the Irish Sea

  • Mr. Dan Lee (Bangor University)

The Economics Work Package will bring together results from the other work packages to feed into a bioeconomic model that will attempt to quantify the economic implications of climate change on shellfisheries in the Irish Sea. This information will then be used to help define possible mitigation and adaptation strategies for the fishing and aquaculture industries.  A provisional assessment of the economic status of farmed and wild-caught shellfish industries in Ireland and Wales has enabled a combined Irish-Welsh picture to be built up. There are some inconsistencies between the way data are recorded for Ireland and Wales and there are also some significant data gaps and some other anomalies that need to be resolved. However, it’s clear that mussels, Nephrops, scallops, crabs, lobsters, whelks and oysters are the most valuable shellfish produced in Ireland (in that order, farmed + fished combined). The same shellfish, with the addition of cockles, also constitute the most valuable shellfish in Wales. A provisional analysis of prices indicates that landings of the same species in Ireland and Wales fetch comparable prices. This is helpful because it suggests it will be safe to create a combined bioeconomic model for Welsh and Irish shellfish, treating them more like traded commodities than products just for local markets. In terms of overall value, Irish landings are much more significant than Welsh ones. Taking into consideration the top 9 shellfish species, the whole Irish industry is valued at 96 million euros per year compared to just 12 million euros in Wales. Thus the Irish industry is 8 times bigger than in Wales. For the final analysis for SUSFISH, Irish production figures are being scaled down to correspond to the Irish Sea zone defined for the project (landings from county Cork to Louth). This region accounts for about 32 million euros of shellfish production (fished and farmed), or a third of the total for the Republic of Ireland. In volume terms, the most important shellfish in Ireland are rope grown and bottom grown mussels, which are both aquaculture crops. This reveals the importance and potential for shellfish aquaculture on both sides of the Irish Sea. The Welsh aquaculture scene is also dominated by mussels, nearly all of which are farmed in the Menai Strait. In Ireland, Foyle, Wexford Harbour and Cromane are the most important mussel producing estuaries. Although Cromane and Foyle are not within the SUSFISH project area, Foyle, the most important of all, is seeded with mussels taken from the Irish Sea so its production needs to be taken into account. With regard to climate change, the consensus within the group is that acidification and temperature rise will have the most predictable impact on shellfish productivity. As the SUSFISH project proceeds, other impacts will be assessed for their potential economic effects as far as possible.


 Figure 1. GIS Mapping of Welsh Shellfish Landings (by port and species)