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Institutes of Technology Ireland
Research & Innovation

2014: Design and development of a facility for long-term storage of live lobster

The Aran island based co-op Comhar Caomhan Teo specializes in exporting lobster to lucrative markets in Europe and Asia. In collaboration with researchers at the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), a new lobster storage unit was installed to increase survival rates over longer periods, taking some of the uncertainty out of the business.

Live lobsters are stockpiled in open ponds or holding cages at sea for several weeks prior to transportation, a process which is often put on hold as the exporter awaits the firming up of volatile market prices. In the meantime, mortality and spoilage during storage is common. The aim of this collaboration was to develop an energy efficient system to increase survival rates over longer periods and take some of the uncertainty out of the business.

GMIT’s Marine and Freshwater Research Centre works closely with state and semi-state agencies, other Higher Education Institutes and industrial stakeholders like Comhar Caomhan Teo to transfer, develop and commercialise novel products, methods and services to optimise and modernise the seafood industry. GMIT’s particular expertise in shellfish physiology and its excellent sea water holding facilities provided the research platform for the company to investigate its problem.

Working collaboratively with Comhar Caomhan Teo, GMIT’s scientists demonstrated the potential of a temperature controlled sea water re-circulation system based at GMIT for the long term storage of live lobster. The knowledge generated from using this system allowed GMIT scientists to design and adapt a new state of the art one tonne re-circulating unit, valued at e40,000 for the company.

The company availed of funding from GMIT, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher scheme to support the project. The company contributed substantial product knowledge and expertise, as well as the stock used in the experiments.

The economic viability of the lobster holding system was demonstrated by reducing significantly the mortality rates and wastage associated with storing lobsters. The re-circulation system increased the storage period for live lobster to up to 6 months and provided the company with far greater control over their product. This increased the average unit value from e10/kilo to e40/kilo.

The overall impact of GMIT’s collaboration with Comhar Caomhan Teo was to facilitate the company’s business growth. The increased export quantities generated have resulted in improved profitability and the project has provided an excellent platform for further development.

 

Testimonial

“Comhar Caomhan Teo are delighted with the installation of a state of the art lobster storage unit. Until the installation of the unit, the co-op was not able to store shellfish on the island. Rather than sending products directly to the continent at low prices dictated by European buyers the co-op now has the ability to store lobster for up to six months which has provided us with far greater control of our stock and responsiveness to seasonal market demand.”

Paddy Crowe Manager, Comhar Caomhan Teo

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Institution:
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
Industry: Food
National Priority Area: Marine and Renewable Energy

Dr. Eugene McCarthy
Marine and Freshwater Research Centre
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
Dublin Road, Galway
Ireland
T: +353-91-753 161
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.