“Offshore mussel farming has the potential to become one of the world’s most sustainable, large-scale sources of healthy protein. Through the Ropes to Reefs project, we can gauge the industry’s potential benefits far beyond just providing a sustainable source of food. Working closely with the fishing and mussel farming industry, and building on previous and ongoing research, we can deliver essential evidence regarding the impact of offshore aquaculture. This will enable us to fully assess whether it can serve as a nature-based solution that preserves – if not enhances – the health and productivity of our ocean.”
Associate Professor of Marine Ecology and lead of the Ropes to Reefs project
The suspended rope culture offshore mussel farm in Lyme Bay has been designed to produce thousands of tonnes of sustainably farmed mussels from a relatively small area, which is less than 1% of Lyme Bay. During the past nine years of operation, we have witnessed the regeneration of biodiversity in the farmed area and huge increases in the number of fish and shellfish such as bass, mullet, crab and lobster. These benefit from habitat, shelter, nursery areas and food that is freely available around the ropes in the farm. The Ropes to Reefs project will provide evidence to determine whether the offshore mussel farm provides an enhancement effect to surrounding commercial fisheries, as the other species spill over from the protected area. It will also establish whether food produced by this type of aquaculture acts as an addition and not a replacement to traditional fisheries.