We put this together on a very auspicious day, Wednesday 13th October 2021, so Happy World Algae Day!
If you are just browsing or short of time right now, please just read the bold text OR look at the pictures showing native oyster growth stages AND PLEASE sign up to our newsletter! (all links are in blue)
NEW WEBSITE: www.falfisherycooperativecic.org
SOCIAL MEDIA: @FalFisheryCOOP @SavingESTER
YOUTUBE: Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC
Just before lockdown 1 in 2020, we launched a campaign to try and reverse the 85-95% decline of the Native Oyster (Ostrea edulis) and conduct some trials of hatching native oysters from wild brood stock.
In the past 18 months we have ALL struggled with some set backs, or worse, but at Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC and the Saving ESTER campaign we have struggled on despite losing all volunteers and yet another director...
... now we find ourselves at a huge hurdle, do we say the trials have been successful in creating larvae but not in metamorphosis, and the aquaculture site is ready and that is essential for the research project but unviable to fishers and merchants, therefore just give up? or do we struggle on and continue with the trials knowing raising native oyster larvae is a very difficult science, but one that will provide keystone species (marine habitats), climate benefits (carbon sequestration) and a sustainable food supply (aquaculture industry)?
Photo: Spat on shell from Aquaculture Site - CJ Ranger
It is only "improbable" that we will succeed, in growing larvae and settling native oysters, given the survival rate in the wild is 500,000/1 - BUT it's not "impossible"given that 1 does survive!!!
What went well, or wrong, with the hatchery trials?
Firstly, we selected conditioned native oysters from the beds and in our initial trial we created loads of larvae, but we didn't expect it so quickly and therefore wasn't ready with enough tanks, for the next stages of larvae settlement.
Then we focused on the aquaculture site and stored thousands of Native Oysters and several tonnes of Queen Scallops during the decimation of the markets due to COVID/Brexit. This was extremely labour intensive but raised some funds for year 1 overheads AND created an estimated 11 billion larvae therefore maybe 2.2 million baby oysters for the wild habitat, see the photos showing spat created at the aquaculture site.
Photo: Juvenile growth in a Youth Hostel - CJ Ranger
In April 2021, with the new purpose built hatchery, we set about further hatchery trials, unfortunately due to movement restrictions we had to hold the brood stock in the hatchery before starting the process. This may have been a mistake as they were not conditioned as well...
... Towards the end of the summer, we witnessed loads of larval shell, well lots of circles under the microscope, so we made a special visit to the University of Portsmouth's (UoP) brand new and hugely funded Native Oyster Research Hatchery...
... It was there that it was quite clear that our 'feeding' program needed seriously looking at. We had been using a concentrated algae feed, but UoP had been working on an algae farm to feed their larvae, which by the way even though they had vastly more financial support - they too were struggling with the 'metamorphosis or settling stage'...
Photo: Sail Britain marine conservation volunteers sorting the Retirement Home Grandparents at the Aquaculture Site
So, we are now looking to raise further funds through a series of bite size targets and in order to be eligible for *extra funding we need to launch a new live campaign for the "Saving ESTER: Algae Farm & Aquaculture Research".
Photo Courtesy of Mic at Bivalve Aquatics: Algae Culture Farming
Initial Target: £2,000
Algae Farm - to feed the larvae and spat oysters
First Stretch Target: £4,000
Various grow out containers - another £2,000
Second Stretch Target: £12,000
Passenger Vessel Purchase & Licensing - £8,000 12 seater
Full Target: £50,000 (this is also Part 1 of the SavingESTER campaign)
Aquaculture Research Pontoon, Container & Crane - £24,000 pontoon, £3,000 container, £8,000 crane plus £3,000 haulage.
Please note: while we have been extensively researching for equipment, we have a limited time to secure an excellent second hand pontoon for £20,000 plus delivery & VAT, other values are 'budgets' as prices for equipment are changing all the time!
Photo: 'Shelly' the aquaculture vessel on hire from Fal Oyster - CJ Ranger
At our aquaculture site we aim to store thousands of native oysters, so they can collectively create future populations.
We will have nursery upwellers for the baby spat (1m-1yr old)
We will have youth hostels for juveniles (1-3yr old)
We will have affordable housing for brood stock (4-5yr old)
We will have retirement homes for elderly (+8yr old)
In order to continue long term we are seeking to raise funds for the aquaculture research site from this campaign and many other various climate and carbon funds. ALL of the funds raised from Crowdfunder is for equipment and algae starter cultures, we do not draw a wage, but we do hope to take on core paid staff if we are successful with the larger grant applications. We have been applying to cover costs of: long term overheads, core staffing, infrastructure and stocks of juvenile baby oysters.
In 2020 we had lined up collaborating with the University of Exeter (Penryn Marine Sciences), but all field trips etc were cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2021 we are again arranging research projects with the Uni and with a local marine college for the 16-20 yr olds too!
Photo: more sorting of Grandparents and Retirement Homes - CJ Ranger
Phase 1: April 2020
Raise £8,755 to conduct hatchery trials in a purification centre
Phase 2: August 2020
Borrowed £10,000 to secure and set up the aquaculture research site
Phase 3: April 2021
Raise an extra £9,000 from Phase 1, to create a purpose built hatchery
Phase 4: August 2021
Raise funds to secure year 2 onwards of the aquaculture research site, finance a pontoon or barge for easier deployment/recovery of shellfish and purchase a vessel to give greater access to college students and university researchers, as well as offering you the supporters a chance to see first hand, either in person or filmed during a tour with us, in this new round of fundraising
Please support if you can and share if you cannot at this time, remember "a crowd draws a crowd" - thanks for taking the time to read this and bye for now
Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC