ShellSIM has been designed to resolve the complex set of feedbacks, both positive and negative, of suspension-feeding shellfish aquaculture interaction with ecosystem processes. These range from stimulation of primary production by the nitrogen excreted from shellfish to the increases in oxygen demand from shellfish detritus production. In addition, the model can simulate the effect of culture practices on the environment as well as on the financial exploitation approach. This means ShellSIM can evaluate the effects of environmental change on shellfish growth, condition and population dynamics; define optimal culture practices given an environmental setting, estimate the potential environmental carrying capacities for natural and cultured shellfish; quantify  both positive and negative influences of shellfish upon ecological processes and environmental status (i.e. water quality) and evaluate financial considerations for profit maximisation and aquaculture insurance.

The model was first developed by Tony Hawkins while working at Plymouth Marine Laboratoty (PML). PML retains the IP associated with ShellSIM (


Suggested users: Aquaculture producers, regulators, spatial planners

Format: Standalone application

Cost: Free to use web demo and a licenced version is available for £50

Data requirements: Environmental forcing variables (e.g. temperature, salinity, food availability, currents) and farm characteristics.

Time requirements: If data is available then it takes less than an hour to set up and a few minutes to run the model. 

Required resources: Standard computer

Prior knowledge: Some understanding of shellfish farming and interaction with the environment. 

Scientific papers and relevant literature

Hawkins, A.J.S., Pascoe, P.L., Parry, H., Brinsley, M., Black, K.D., McGonigle, C., Moore, H., Newell, C.R>, O'Boyle, N., Ocarroll, T., O'Loan, B., Service, M., Smaal, A.C., Zhang, X.L., Zhu, M.Y. 2013. Shellsim: A generic model of growth and environmental effects validated across contrating habitats in bivalve shellfish. Journal of Shellfish Research, 32(2): 237-253.