Ascidians for Biogas

It all started with the mussels.

For about ten years ago Lysekil Municipality received funding for a unique project designed to examine mussels ability to filter nutrients in the sea. Mussel farming should be used as an alternative to the traditional nitrogen removal at the municipal treatment plant in Lysekil. The initiative caused quite a stir when a well-known Norwegian enterprise invested in the project. However, they had no luck with the project and a long conflict and trials ended up with the company eventually went bankrupt.

The municipality had to clean-up after the project and the shellfish growers along the Swedish west coast noticed a sharp drop in business because of the negative publicity muslings project had received.

Yet Lysekil Municipality a few years later deceided to invest in marine goods. This time in the production of ascidians for biogas production. Ascidians are particularly suitable for the purpose, as they grow quickly, contain significant amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen and, not least, clean up the water even better than clams.

The pilot project gave big headlines even before the beginning. The local peasants feared that the production of this - in their eyes – weeds would destroy the mussel production and once again discredit the industry.

In an attempt to create an understanding for the project the industry and the farmers were invited to a dialogue meeting. Most growers in the region participated along with politicians, local officials and representatives from the project. After an introduction to the project, the various concerns were discussed in order to find constructive solutions that all parties could agree on.

Subsequently, th growers were invited on courses. Here they learned among other things, to distinguish between mussel and ascidian larvae and learned about water samples and when it is optimal to start culttvations.

These initiatives have led to a close cooperation between the municipality, the mussel growers and other stakeholders in the further development of the project and planning of the entire coastal zone.