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    De-infestation of slipper limpets from mussel seed

    The mussel culture industry is one of the largest and most valuable fisheries in the UK representing almost 90% of total shellfish aquaculture production by weight in England and Wales with a value of around £14 million per year. Continuing productivity is significantly dependant on the movement of mussel seed from wild settlement areas to cultivation areas. Unfortunately, these shellfish movements can also spread pests such as the non-native slipper limpet (Crepidula fornicata) which has the potential to have a devastating effect on both fisheries and marine eco-systems as it out-competes other species for food and space as well as depositing pseudo-faeces that builds up to create cohesive ‘muds’. An accidental introduction of slipper limpets into the major UK mussel culture area of the Menai Straits, North Wales has recently occurred following a movement of mussel seed contaminated with slipper limpets from the English Channel. This led to urgent remedial action having to be taken by industry which involved removing the infested mussel seed and then smothering of any remaining slipper limpets with new slipper limpet free seed. There is a need therefore for the industry to self regulate and minimise risks in such transfers. Failure to do so will otherwise result in measures being imposed on industry in this respect. Positive action is now currently being undertaken in some regions as can be seen by the development of a Code of Good Practise by the Bangor Mussel Producers.