After the first year of activity the IDREEM consortium is now entering the core phase of the project, the implementation of IMTA pilot-scale operations. In the last twelve months research organizations and SMEs have worked together to elaborate experimental protocols to monitor and evaluate the performance of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture concepts applied in different locations across Europe. Below is a brief summary of what is being developed at the various IMTA sites.
In Norway Bioforsk – the Norwegian Institute for Agriculture and Environmental Research, works together with GIFAS, a privately held company which provides trial facilities for fish farmers. The set-up of the IMTA pilot operation is still being developed and regulatory and technical issues are being addressed; however it is expected that trials will compare monoculture of Atlantic Salmon against multicutures of salmon and kelp, mussels and red algae.
In Cyprus, the site in Vasiliko Bay managed by Seawave Fisheries with the scientific support of MER – Marine Environmental Research – began experimenting with bivalves in summer 2013, with small-scale mussel deployment near the farm (seabream and seabass) at different depths. Larger scale deployment of mussels and oysters is expected by early 2014. Experiments with sea urchins and sea cucumbers are also planned for 2014.
In Israel the University of Haifa and Suf-Fish farm will implement an IMTA concept based on two finfish species. The initial experimental design integrates mullets under seabream cages in the Mediterranean. At Suf-Fish, grey mullets (Mugil cephalus) are experimentally grown for their ability to survive on a diet of detritus and because they are endemic to the area. Moreover studies have proven mullets improved the geochemical status of sediments in experimental net cages, deployed below a gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) fish farm in the Red Sea.
In Ardcastle Bay, Scotland, IMTA systems are being implemented by Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd. (with scientific support provided by SAMS), with longlines placed in proximity to Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) cages in order to grow sea urchins, queen scallops, seaweeds, oysters and mussels.
Viking Fish Farm at Ardtoe is a land-based aquaculture facility and will set up two IMTA raceways to grow pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis). In order to maximize productivity, the IMTA system will be housed in a pre-existing poly-tunnel which will create a micro-environment suitable for oysters’ growth.
In Italy the IMTA operations will be carried out by AQUA s.r.l. with the support of the University of Genova, at their cages growing sea bass. Two species of oysters were chosen, namely pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis), as they are both high-end products. Previous studies indicate that oysters grow better in IMTA systems than in monoculture.
In Bantry Bay and Kenmare Bay near Cork, longlines of seaweeds (Alaria esculenta) are grown at a distance of 50 and 30 m from existing salmon cages. Daithi O’Murchu Marine Station is monitoring biomass growth in both sites; the first results have shown algal biomass has nearly doubled in weigth between April and June 2013.