In the Danish Finance Act for 2018, DKK 30 million has been allocated over a four-year period to establish the first large-scale oyster hatchery in Denmark. The hatchery will be located at the Danish Shellfish Centre in Nykøbing Mors on the island of Mors in north-west Jutland, and it will support developments within the sustainable exploitation of coastal natural resources in the form of oysters and other shellfish as well as seaweed.
“For the shellfish business to take the next step in this development, it’s necessary to support research within this area to boost the industry. Today, only the blue mussel is cultivated, and the production methods are relatively simple, but more sophisticated cultivation technology and producing several different species holds huge potential,” says Professor Jens Kjerulf Petersen, Head of the Danish Shellfish Centre.
The funding for the hatchery comes from a pool designed to help safeguard development in peripheral areas.
Spat and new cultivation methods
It is basically only blue mussels which can be cultivated with natural spat. For all other species, e.g. oysters, razor shells, and lobsters as well as seaweed species such as dulse (Palmaria palmata), it is necessary to have a hatchery which produces the spat and the spores used in the cultivation tanks.
The Danish Shellfish Centre already has some small hatchery facilities at its disposal, but they are too small and not technologically-advanced enough to produce sufficient quantities of spat and develop the cultivation methods on a big enough scale.
“Now that we’re in a position to establish state-of-the-art infrastructure, we can take Danish shellfish R&D to a completely new level, and make us an even more attractive partner internationally. Moreover, it gives us the opportunity to develop and exploit the potential of the blue biomass for the benefit of both jobs and sustainable food production in Denmark,” says Jens Kjerulf Petersen from the Danish Shellfish Centre.
Environmental benefits of sea-based cultivation
Cultivating shellfish in the sea has the advantage that the marine organisms do not need to be fed. The shellfish live off the algae that are already growing in abundant quantities in Danish waters as a result of nutrient run-off from the land. Instead of going to waste, the nutrients from the land can now be used for the production of healthy, high-value food products.
The large inflow of nutrients from the land makes the inshore waters in Denmark very well suited for shellfish and seaweed cultivation. In addition, Danish waters are unusually clean, which is also crucial for the production of shellfish and seaweed.
Land-based food production accounts for 60 per cent of the land area in Denmark, and therefore there is no room for further expansion, but in the sea, there are large unexploited possibilities for food production.