Good Practice Project
Tralee Oyster Fisheries Society (TOFS) is vested with the management of the wild oyster fishery in Tralee Bay. The not for profit cooperative manages the natural resource for the whole community. In 2016, TOFS included 78 boats which harvested 180 tonnes of flat oysters with a value of €1 170 000. Tralee Bay has significant natural reproduction capability for native oysters (European Flat Oyster Ostrea Edulis) and, to maintain a healthy oyster stock, they also run a spat collection programme.
However, the stock has been seriously limited in recent years by the lack of suitable settlement substrate which is critical for reproduction. The additional substrate had traditionally come from mussel shells which are no longer in plentiful supply due to the market preference for in-shell mussels.
TOFS were aware of different technology being used in France and a visit to French oyster producers using coupelles allowed them to see them in operation. Through discussions, they learnt how they could be used effectively in the tidal conditions of Tralee Bay. The local FLAG helped TOFS invest in these oyster spat collectors known as coupelles, and associated equipment, with the aim of providing an alternative habitat where spat can settle and increasing the levels of natural substrate, essential for optimal recruitment. The technology has been introduced to their whole fishery which expects to see its levels of oyster spat increase.
This project has allowed Tralee Oyster Fisheries Society to innovate by searching for existing technology and applying it to their fishery on a large scale. The project has increased the power and effectiveness of the cooperative to manage a common resource for its members on behalf of the Irish state. However, as it started in the summer of 2018, concrete results in the levels of oyster spat are not expected to be seen before spring 2019, although it could be 2020 before significant increases are seen.
The coupelles (collectors) and the barge used in this project originated in France and so the technology and equipment has been demonstrated to be transferrable between oyster producing areas across Europe. Other FLAG areas facing challenges to their oyster stocks, and with sufficient brood stock to trial new technology at a viable scale, may be interested in studying a similar technology transfer.
The oyster producers had been considering this project for a number of years but the motivation to put ideas into action came from their involvement in the FLAG and as a result of their visit to see the coupelles in a working environment. The financial support from FLAG gave them the confidence to invest their time and money in a project of sufficient scale to make a difference. The ability to access FLAG funding has been a great advantage to TOFS as they are a not for profit organisation.
|Total project cost||€168 113|
|Timeframe of implementation||From Aug 2018|
|Type of area|