Nick at the Orkney International Science Festival – The Blue Economy

By Nick Morrison

The Blue Economy

Dr Kate Johnson and Dr Sandy Kerr of Heriot Watt University together with Prof Bill Sanderson described “The blue Economy” and plans to reintroduce oysters into the Dornoch  Firth.

The Blue Economy is broadly defined as what benefit we derive from sea based activities. Historically we would have just said shipping and fishing. Times they are a changing. Today we have to consider:- tourism, sea bed mining., energy production, aquaculture, oil and gas.This not an exhaustive list.

85% of European oyster beds have been wiped out by over-fishing by European fishermen – that includes some Scottish ones. Prof Sanderson spoke of the scheme to reintroduce oysters into the Dornoch Firth. Much of this work has been undertaken by the St Abs facilities. They have a marine research facility (Napier University) there with indoor climate controlled systems, and as one researcher put it “you just walk out the back door and you  are into the sea”! Their visitor center gets around 50,000 visitors a year. They have successfully got oysters to survive in the old beds. Oysters are filter feeders and actually improve water quality. Ardbeg Distillery are funding some of the research . They already run a large anaerobic digester to reduce their effluent to acceptable limits.

whale in the Dornoch Firth by Andrew Tryon

whale in the Dornoch Firth by Andrew Tryon

A truly exciting project and “good news story”

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