The project, entitled ’Shellfish productivity in the Irish Sea: working towards a sustainable future (SUSFISH)’, is led by Bangor University in partnership with Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities in Wales and University College Cork in Ireland.
The total €2.9m (£2.5m) project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Cross Border Territorial Cooperation Programme (INTERREG 4A).
The researchers will produce guidelines for future fisheries management, ensuring sustainable development of the shellfish industry in Ireland and Wales.
They will achieve this by assessing the potential effects of climate change, using oceanographic models, on shellfish productivity in the Irish Sea and determining adaptation or mitigation strategies for the industry, including recommendations for protection of certain areas.
The Swansea-based team will look at potential changes in shellfish health, with particular emphasis on cockles, edible crabs and lobsters.
Drs Emma Wootton and Ed Pope from Swansea University’s School of the Environment and Society, and Dr Claire Vogan from the School of Medicine, will initially examine a condition called shell disease, which affects crabs and lobsters.
This syndrome is responsible for major losses in lobster fisheries off the eastern seaboard of North America, where one of the contributory factors appears to be a small rise in sea-water temperature. High levels of shell disease are also found in edible crabs in some areas of the Wales.