15AGRITECHCAT4: Lobster Grower 2 - Assessing the technical, economic and environmental potential for a novel candidate aquaculture industry.

Lead Research Organisation: Falmouth University
Department Name: Sch of Architecture, Design & Interiors

Abstract

This project focuses on developing three priority areas for commercial lobster aquaculture: 1) field testing and development of innovative technical solutions, 2) development of an Aqua-economic model and: 3) de risking of farming operations. The European lobster is a high value species with a significant supply deficit and a limited fisheries production capacity. The development of a lobster aquaculture industry will generate wealth and jobs in vulnerable coastal communities and contribute towards food security issues. Lobster Grower 2 (LG2), a follow on project from the successful first stage project: Lobster Grower one (LG1), aims to implement field tests and evaluate innovations generated in LG1, whilst developing and testing further innovations related to anchoring systems. A specific objective of LG2 will be to develop an 'aqua-economic' model based on operations of a pilot scale lobster farm. This will be based upon a detailed technical and economic evaluation of the pilot farm's operation, utilising the developed innovative approach. This economic predictive tool will enable and encourage entrepreneurs and potential investors to enter into commercial production with a reduced economic and technical risk. A significant component of the project will also focus on de-risking key environmental risks associated with livestock farming from a product and system development approach, which if not addressed would represent further commercial risk. Therefore, the project also explores real-word factors such ergonomics of handling, transportation and storage, transportation logistics with and without lobsters and the overall practical implications for stakeholders throughout the supply chain.

Technical Summary

Support from the Agri-tech catalyst has been secured for a 36 month project, addressing fundamental food security challenges by examining novel angles to expand aquaculture; to include a species not currently exploited, the European Lobster. This species commands the highest value (by volume) of any species landed in the UK and exhibits a significant supply deficit.

Central to this project and its success is the design, development, testing and assessment of Sea based culture, in containers (SBCC). The SBCC have the potential for a low carbon form of rearing with no feed costs.

The containers will be designed and developed using design led research that engages with the users of the containers, namely, fishermen, transporters, handlers and the hatchery supply chain. Observational and participatory research will be applied to evaluate field trial containers developed from LG1 and identify, develop and specify opportunities for the SBCC product itself, and also the holistic system in which the containers are used, for example, anchorage and mooring systems. Therefore, beyond the physical performance and economic viability of the containers in production terms, they will be viewed as 'touchpoints' in a more comprehensive aquaculture system. Within this iterative and inclusive design process effort will be made to identify IP opportunities and exploitation that will contribute to impact. Overall the design activity aims to support future commercialisation of the system and its SBCC product elements by optimise all elements that contribute to the holistic system. Throughout the design process iterative models and 3D CAD will be realise.

The consortium will be led by the National Lobster Hatchery and consists of two SME's, two HEI's and a Government Agency

Planned Impact

This project aims to progress the UK's aquaculture industry by enhancing the prospect for the culture of a species not currently exploited in the aquaculture industry. There is a critical mass of knowledge in the UK and the physical and chemical properties found in our coastal waters match the biological requirements of this high value candidate species. Further development of aquaculture will therefore provide an economic boost to the UK's agri-tech industry. With the market for farmed crustacean species in 2006 reaching $20 billion globally at first sale (Stentiford et al., 2010) the potential market for farmed lobsters is huge. The yearly global markets for live and frozen lobster is estimated to rise due to the increase in demand with product requirements estimated to be between 50,000 and 70,000 tonnes, whilst current landings of the European Lobster are in the order of 5,000 tonnes (http://www.fao.org/fishery/species/2648/en). By taking in consideration a price for the Lobster of £15 per kilogram (as identified in an article by The Telegraph from 28th April 2013) and assuming an increase through European Lobster farming from 5,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes the market increase would be from £75million to £300million per year.

As identified in the 'Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition' report from 2014 by the 'High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition' (HLPE), overall 158 million tonnes of finfish, crustaceans, molluscs, miscellaneous aquatic animals were produced in 2012, of which 91.3 million tonnes come from inland and marine capture fisheries and 66.6 million tonnes from inland and marine aquaculture. The continual growth in fish production - mostly from aquaculture since the 1990s - and improved production efficiency and distribution channels enabled the supply of fish for food per-capita to more than triple at world level since 1950, from 6 kg/cap/yr in 1950 to 19.2 kg/cap/yr in 2012. The today capture finfish, crustaceans, molluscs, miscellaneous aquatic animals provide 3.0 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and a further 1.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their per capita intake. Through the economically and environmental sustainable production of farmed European Lobster a significant contribution can be generated to the further provision of capita intake of animal protein and hence positively contributing to food security.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Significant new knowledge generated
How to develop a commercial product for rearing aquaculture species
• The need for lobster aquaculture
• Current status of technology
• The route to achieving commercial reality
• Developing the SBCC container
• Optimising farm operations
• Optimising seed supply
• Supporting technology
• Setting up a site
• Future policy and regulations
• Establishing the market
• Broodstock development
• Animal health considerations
• Social and public perception
• New or improved research methods or skills developed;
New knowledge in research techniques and product development for the aquaculture industries was developed as a result of the product development and testing work conducted by Falmouth researchers. This included applying design centric methods such as observation and user feedback, scenario modelling to understand how fishermen and lobsters behave.
The development of Computational Fluid Dynamic modelling was learnt in order to simulate the effective flow rate through the designed container system.
• Important new research questions opened up;
The importance of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and species with and along the sea became forefront during the project and has subsequently informed new research questions and a PhD proposal to look at alternatives to plastic in some of the components.
• Particularly noteworthy new research networks/collaborations/partnerships, or combinations of these;
The collaborative partners, CEFAS, National Lobster Hatchery, Exeter University and West Country Mussels of Fowey worked with Falmouth during the full two years of this research project. The exposure to new knowledge and skills has strengthen future engagement and collaborative project opportunities leading to further funding
Exploitation Route Other researchers and commercial parties looking to further work or business within the lobster aquaculture rearing sector would be able to utilize the SBCC hard product system to create a business startup and the roadmap and aqua economic model (developed by CEFAS with Falmouth Universities input) to understand an investment strategy and environment auditing tool to ascertain future viability of farm sites and volumes.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Other

URL http://www.lobstergrower.co.uk/
 
Description The invention and refinement of the Novel Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) product/system as listed in the UK patent (GB25499) has been developed through this collaborative research project since starting in 2016. The SBCC aims to create economic growth in a new food product by enabling an efficient, low carbon farming method. The collaborative partners include an existing commercial aqua-culture business and their input has provided viable suggestions to enable other aqua SME companies to adopt these new methods. Falmouth and CEFAS have collaborated to develop an aqua-economic modelling software to enable future businesses to assess the viability of site locations and potential economic returns. There is envisaged to be both economic growth in terms of a new food product to market, estimated to be approx 120K Tons. It is also envisaged that the project will deliver significant societal impact through securing and increasing job opportunities by providing the products and tools to enable new business startups and existing business diversification.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Policy leaflet
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://www.lobstergrower.co.uk/become-a-farmer/
 
Description ERDF - Marine I
Amount £17,562 (GBP)
Organisation University of Exeter 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
 
Title Aqua-Economic Model 
Description The Aqua-Economic Model was developed to comprehensively cost out the processes and materials involved in running a commercial lobster farm. By including staff and boat hours as well as material costs a model of operations could be developed, a full budgetary analysis of running a farm on different scales, and ultimately the pinch-points in running a profitable industry. These pinch-points have been fed into the roadmap for future technological advances and developments. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The tool has identified the key aspects for future research funding and can be adapted by collaborators for similar aquaculture scenarios, e.g. within the Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS). As such this tool has minimised unnecessary research bids and de-risked the industry for new entrants. 
 
Description Lobster Grower 2 Consortium 
Organisation Centre For Environment, Fisheries And Aquaculture Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Falmouth University Falmouth, has provided the consortium with design and manufacturing expertise to enable the refinement of the SBCC Container designs, originally prototyped within the LG1 project. Falmouth's design skills have enabled the successful realisation and granting of a worldwide patent for the SBCC Container designs. Falmouth has also provided design led research methods that have collected valuable insights from the commercial partners to establish a body of knowledge for the development of this and future aqua-culture products. Falmouth's Industrial Design experience of transforming prototypes to manufacture ready solutions has been used to refine the design of the SBCC containers to a commercially viable product.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity based in Padstow, Cornwall, UK. Their work is specifically related to the European Lobster and in the last few years have successfully established themselves as a global centre for excellence in lobster science - publishing numerous papers and presenting work on the world stage. NLH provide the consortium with overall project management and expertise on the welfare and growing conditions for lobsters. Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science CEFAS have provided input on regulatory frameworks, pathological analysis and issues for future lobster farmers and developed methods for making this guidance freely available for new entrants. CEFAS have collated the economic data collected as part of the second level project to develop a bio-economic model for use by a developing industry sector in order to develop future farms in a sustainable way. West Country Muscles of Fowey WMoF is one of the first offshore mussel farms in England and as a pioneer has benefitted from first mover advantage. WMoF have provided aqua-culture farming expertise in order for the LG2 consortium to develop the 'Know How' and provide much of the detailed understanding of operations required to set up and run the countries first lobster farm. University of Exeter UoE bring marine biology and engineering expertise to the Lobster Grower 2 project (LG2). UoE have conducted open sea field evaluation studies to help inform the consortium partners on further innovations to the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system. The detailed studies have created a knowledge base that validates performance of the SBCC system.
Impact Patents applied for and granted for UK on new aquaculture product - GB20160005479 20160331 Roadmap document developed with CEFAS and all partners for the developing industry. To be Published Policy Leaflet for new entrants to industry. Published in print and on web through CEFAS
Start Year 2016
 
Description Lobster Grower 2 Consortium 
Organisation National Lobster Hatchery
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Falmouth University Falmouth, has provided the consortium with design and manufacturing expertise to enable the refinement of the SBCC Container designs, originally prototyped within the LG1 project. Falmouth's design skills have enabled the successful realisation and granting of a worldwide patent for the SBCC Container designs. Falmouth has also provided design led research methods that have collected valuable insights from the commercial partners to establish a body of knowledge for the development of this and future aqua-culture products. Falmouth's Industrial Design experience of transforming prototypes to manufacture ready solutions has been used to refine the design of the SBCC containers to a commercially viable product.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity based in Padstow, Cornwall, UK. Their work is specifically related to the European Lobster and in the last few years have successfully established themselves as a global centre for excellence in lobster science - publishing numerous papers and presenting work on the world stage. NLH provide the consortium with overall project management and expertise on the welfare and growing conditions for lobsters. Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science CEFAS have provided input on regulatory frameworks, pathological analysis and issues for future lobster farmers and developed methods for making this guidance freely available for new entrants. CEFAS have collated the economic data collected as part of the second level project to develop a bio-economic model for use by a developing industry sector in order to develop future farms in a sustainable way. West Country Muscles of Fowey WMoF is one of the first offshore mussel farms in England and as a pioneer has benefitted from first mover advantage. WMoF have provided aqua-culture farming expertise in order for the LG2 consortium to develop the 'Know How' and provide much of the detailed understanding of operations required to set up and run the countries first lobster farm. University of Exeter UoE bring marine biology and engineering expertise to the Lobster Grower 2 project (LG2). UoE have conducted open sea field evaluation studies to help inform the consortium partners on further innovations to the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system. The detailed studies have created a knowledge base that validates performance of the SBCC system.
Impact Patents applied for and granted for UK on new aquaculture product - GB20160005479 20160331 Roadmap document developed with CEFAS and all partners for the developing industry. To be Published Policy Leaflet for new entrants to industry. Published in print and on web through CEFAS
Start Year 2016
 
Description Lobster Grower 2 Consortium 
Organisation University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Falmouth University Falmouth, has provided the consortium with design and manufacturing expertise to enable the refinement of the SBCC Container designs, originally prototyped within the LG1 project. Falmouth's design skills have enabled the successful realisation and granting of a worldwide patent for the SBCC Container designs. Falmouth has also provided design led research methods that have collected valuable insights from the commercial partners to establish a body of knowledge for the development of this and future aqua-culture products. Falmouth's Industrial Design experience of transforming prototypes to manufacture ready solutions has been used to refine the design of the SBCC containers to a commercially viable product.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity based in Padstow, Cornwall, UK. Their work is specifically related to the European Lobster and in the last few years have successfully established themselves as a global centre for excellence in lobster science - publishing numerous papers and presenting work on the world stage. NLH provide the consortium with overall project management and expertise on the welfare and growing conditions for lobsters. Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science CEFAS have provided input on regulatory frameworks, pathological analysis and issues for future lobster farmers and developed methods for making this guidance freely available for new entrants. CEFAS have collated the economic data collected as part of the second level project to develop a bio-economic model for use by a developing industry sector in order to develop future farms in a sustainable way. West Country Muscles of Fowey WMoF is one of the first offshore mussel farms in England and as a pioneer has benefitted from first mover advantage. WMoF have provided aqua-culture farming expertise in order for the LG2 consortium to develop the 'Know How' and provide much of the detailed understanding of operations required to set up and run the countries first lobster farm. University of Exeter UoE bring marine biology and engineering expertise to the Lobster Grower 2 project (LG2). UoE have conducted open sea field evaluation studies to help inform the consortium partners on further innovations to the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system. The detailed studies have created a knowledge base that validates performance of the SBCC system.
Impact Patents applied for and granted for UK on new aquaculture product - GB20160005479 20160331 Roadmap document developed with CEFAS and all partners for the developing industry. To be Published Policy Leaflet for new entrants to industry. Published in print and on web through CEFAS
Start Year 2016
 
Description Lobster Grower 2 Consortium 
Organisation Westcountry Mussels of Fowey Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Falmouth University Falmouth, has provided the consortium with design and manufacturing expertise to enable the refinement of the SBCC Container designs, originally prototyped within the LG1 project. Falmouth's design skills have enabled the successful realisation and granting of a worldwide patent for the SBCC Container designs. Falmouth has also provided design led research methods that have collected valuable insights from the commercial partners to establish a body of knowledge for the development of this and future aqua-culture products. Falmouth's Industrial Design experience of transforming prototypes to manufacture ready solutions has been used to refine the design of the SBCC containers to a commercially viable product.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity based in Padstow, Cornwall, UK. Their work is specifically related to the European Lobster and in the last few years have successfully established themselves as a global centre for excellence in lobster science - publishing numerous papers and presenting work on the world stage. NLH provide the consortium with overall project management and expertise on the welfare and growing conditions for lobsters. Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science CEFAS have provided input on regulatory frameworks, pathological analysis and issues for future lobster farmers and developed methods for making this guidance freely available for new entrants. CEFAS have collated the economic data collected as part of the second level project to develop a bio-economic model for use by a developing industry sector in order to develop future farms in a sustainable way. West Country Muscles of Fowey WMoF is one of the first offshore mussel farms in England and as a pioneer has benefitted from first mover advantage. WMoF have provided aqua-culture farming expertise in order for the LG2 consortium to develop the 'Know How' and provide much of the detailed understanding of operations required to set up and run the countries first lobster farm. University of Exeter UoE bring marine biology and engineering expertise to the Lobster Grower 2 project (LG2). UoE have conducted open sea field evaluation studies to help inform the consortium partners on further innovations to the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system. The detailed studies have created a knowledge base that validates performance of the SBCC system.
Impact Patents applied for and granted for UK on new aquaculture product - GB20160005479 20160331 Roadmap document developed with CEFAS and all partners for the developing industry. To be Published Policy Leaflet for new entrants to industry. Published in print and on web through CEFAS
Start Year 2016
 
Title Apparatus for rearing shellfish 
Description Apparatus 1 for rearing shellfish (lobsters) includes an enclosure having a base 3, a top 3 and a side wall 2. The side wall extends between the base and the top. The base and the top both have a substantially quadrilateral shape, preferably a rhombus. The side wall of the enclosure is perforated 7 to permit water flow through the enclosure. A first attachment device 11, 61 permits the enclosure to be attached, in use, to an underwater securing means (75, fig 11). The attachment device is located adjacent a first corner (20, fig 3) of the quadrilateral shape. Dividers may be provided to spilt the enclosures into compartments. Multiple enclosures may be provided one on top of the other. The side wall may be made up of multiple sections. Connecting and disconnecting the sections from one another allows shellfish to be inserted and removed. 
IP Reference GB2549090 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact These innovations will be exploited by the trading company National Lobster Hatchery Enterprises Ltd (NLHE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Lobster Hatchery Charitable Company. NLHE will either act as a wholesaler of devices, or licence whole sale to another organisation. Further developments on the SBCC container, system and approach, based on this project, will be protected as part of LG2 (thus all information from the project is highly confidential and will not be shared outside the consortium unless under a non-disclosure agreement). Refinement of the novel container's design is set to continue throughout the project and will be based on data gathered and observations made to try and improve its performance, thus leading to the NLHE having a fully tested, field evaluated marketable product at the end of LG2. The NLH has been contacted by independent parties who are interested in purchasing small numbers of novel SBCC containers for research purposes. The NLH will look to supply research institutes and commercial companies who wish to purchase containers for their own use.
 
Title Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) product 
Description The SBCC is the worlds first patented lobster aquaculture rearing product. The team at Falmouth developed the initial IP in Lobster grower 1 and field trialed and refined the product solution in Lobster Grower 2. This resulted in circa 45000 lobsters deployed at sea as part of the research phase of this project. The new innovation has proven to be fit for purpose and a viable commercial outcome. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Successful deployment and rearing of juvenile lobsters over a 2 year sea based research trial. The product helped achieve improvements in both growth rates and second stage survival of lobsters in comparison to the existing product, (an oyster growing system used as a reference trial). 
URL http://www.lobstergrower.co.uk/
 
Description Business Success and Growth 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Our Business Success and Growth meeting showcased the outputs of the Lobster Grower 2 consortium to policymakers and professionals from Innovate-UK and the Department for Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) as well as consortium partners. This meeting, held in March 2019 in Padstow, highlighted all the successes of the Lobster Grower 2 project, the knowledge gained towards a future lobster farming industry and the next steps (funded and future projects) towards commercialisation. Attendees were also shown around the National Lobster Hatchery and engaged with consortium partners during the 90 minute meeting. This meeting has firmly established the reputation of consortium partners within the aquaculture sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Conference Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Cross-disciplinary presentation 'How product design can progress the stock enhancement of lobster fisheries' at the Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2018 in Birmingham UK. Presented in Session S47: Nature and Humans (Exploitation or Ecosystem Services) to around 50 people, this talk sparked interest in using the product design process in ecology and led to questions about the impact of a plastic container product in the marine environment. Assurances were given of the robust hard-wearing design and the continual assessment of weaknesses within the system for future development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/events/bes2018/
 
Description Industrial Steering Commitee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As part of Lobster Grower 2, an Industrial Steering Committee (ISC) has been established which will help guide certain outputs of the project. The project is likely to have many beneficial outputs such as increased stock enhancement potential, improved scientific knowledge of this species and technical innovations needed to culture this novel aquaculture species. Members of the ISC will provide valuable input to the project and will directly influence the outputs of Lobster Grower 2 and therefore their role is of great importance.

Four ISC meetings have been held since the start of the project. The meetings have been theme based to aid discussion and to maximise the knowledge transfer from committee members; 'Identifying a potential market for a cultured lobster', 'public perception of LG2' and 'Next steps for lobster Aquaculture'.

The most recent meeting was held on 6th February 2018 at the Bedruthan Hotel & Spa on the North Cornish coast. Additional funding obtained by University of Exeter through the BBSRC Agri-food Catalyst was used to support meeting costs and aid industrial participation. This ISC meeting aimed to understand future avenues for commercial development of Lobster aquaculture and related technology and services (in particular environmental monitoring) that will be needed to support the industry. Feedback from this meeting will be used to target future research and development activities that support a commercially viable model. The meeting was well attended by industry representatives from Coombe Fisheries, Tesco, the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, the Marine Conservation Society, CEFAS, Murt's Shellfish, Sankey's Restaurants and Wing of St Mawes as well as members from the LG2 consortium.

As part of the meeting, breakout workshops were held and delegates provided input into subjects such as cultivation technology, lobster broodstock management, aquaculture site selection and the potential lobster aquaculture product. Areas were identified where future research was needed and further technologies to be developed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
URL http://www.lobstergrower.co.uk/industrial-steering-committee/