Shellfish interests from across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands met…
ACRUNET Partners Gather for Significant Meeting in Vigo
The 4th ACRUNET (Atlantic Crab Resource Users Network) partner meeting was hosted by Centro Tecnológico del Mar (CETMAR) at its headquarters overlooking the historic port of Vigo. The meeting was opened by the Managing Director of CETMAR, Paloma Rueda Crespo who welcomed the delegates to Vigo.
Most of the partners were represented and the industry members were accompanied by several well-known figures from the crab-fishing sector in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland. The ACRUNET ranks have been swelled by the addition of two new partners – the University of Hull or, more precisely, the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies led by Drs Katie Smyth and Roger Uglow, and Marine Scotland Science represented by Carlos Mesquita. The ACRUNET project is delighted to have gained such prominent experts to help it achieve its goals.
ACRUNET is scheduled to run for 35 months so this meeting marked the half-way mark. The partners felt it was an appropriate time to review and assess progress to date and, if necessary, adjust strategies and time-scales to ensure a positive outcome for the widest possible spectrum of the brown crab industry. As usual, the first day was devoted to in-depth focus group meetings arranged around the project Activities; characterising the brown crab industry, developing a pan-European standard and improving the transport of live crab were among the topics dealt with.
A perennial problem for the brown crab industry has been dealing with the waste shell and debris generated by processing. CETMAR has specialised in seafood waste utilisation and has been very active in pursuing feasible solutions. The meeting was addressed by Dr Julio Maroto, Head of the Seafood Technology Department, CETMAR, who presented an overview of the seafood by-products and waste valorisation focusing on the results of main European projects. His department has been involved in major research programs related to valorisation of seafood by-products and marine organisms at European level, including the conversion of seafood waste in high added-value products for industrial application or the creation of on-line by-products markets. Building on the lessons learnt he remarked that "we have achieved many research outputs, but we ignore if they’re useful for the companies. Somehow we are still far from the industry; to address that gap, firstly, industry should be included in the Projects Partnerships; secondly, topics should be oriented to offer solutions to companies; and finally, feasibility studies are critical to ensure economic viability and industrial scale-up after the project ends". In fact, this is the approach adopted by ACRUNET.
Other outputs from the meeting included the data gathered by Seafish with its research in the target countries which threw up some interesting trends and issues; this is an on-going Activity which ties in with the educational and promotional material being developed by FranceAgriMer displayed in Vigo. The initial trials on vivier-based crab transport have commenced and will continue over coming months while the common ground between the three principal crab-fishing countries – the United Kingdom, France and Ireland – continues to be refined to form the basis of a robust standard. Further discussions on improving management strategies for the three producing countries are planned for early in 2014.
The next meeting of the ACRUNET partner organisations will be held in the first quarter of 2014.